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Barge Point Expansion Receives Council Approval on First Reading


City of Clarksville

Clarksville, TN – The Clarksville City Council voted 9-3 on first reading to approve Winn Marine LLC’s proposal to expand their barge port on the Cumberland River. Clarksville City Council Member’s James Lewis, Deanna McLaughlin, and Wallace Redd voted against the ordinance. Jack Swallows and James Chavez spoke in support of the measure. Don Simpson and Ramona Reese spoke against the planned expansion.

The barge port rezoning ordinance passes on first reading

The barge port rezoning ordinance passes on first reading

Swallows said, “I feel proud every time I give someone a tour of our facilities,” he said. “I think when this project is complete you will be just as proud as I am to be a part of it. Clarksville will have a river port it can be proud of to recruit industry… I think everyone here understand the need for a water port to serve Montgomery County. A port will lower freight cost to both the manufacturer and consumers. A port will also make Clarksville more attractive to manufacturing industry that is searching for that kind of a facility.” He then 11 reasons why he felt the City Council should vote to approve the zoning change:

  1. We have 575 acres, and will be providing a 250 acre heavily forested buffer zone.
  2. We will be providing a 250 acre heavily forested buffer zone.
  3. We will be providing a 250 acre heavily forested buffer zone.
  4. This is in an industrial area, with industrial neighbors.
  5. There are four existing single commodity terminals in 1 mile of river.
  6. The only entrance and exit from this site will be barge point road.
  7. We are above the 500 year flood plain.
  8. We are 9 miles below the water intake.
  9. The existing quarry and marine terminals has had no negative impact on home values.
  10. There will be minimal impact on the neighbors.
  11. I think have mentioned that we will be providing a 250 acre heavily forested buffer zone.
The Winn Materials site (Google Earth)

The Winn Materials site (Google Earth)

Swallows then spoke about the potential for significant new employment opportunities for area residents, along with the steps Winn Materials has taken to try to quell the opposition of area residents to the enlarged river front facility.

 James Chavez, the President and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Council speaking in favor of the rezoning

James Chavez, the President and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Council speaking in favor of the rezoning

He was followed by James Chavez, the President and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Council who spoke and expressed official support for planned expansion by the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Board.  “The Industrial Development Board has very consistently expressed our concerns for the lack of port availability for bringing in bulk materials. October 2003 was the first time they adopted a resolution, and then in January 2011 they adopted a second resolution to support a port expansion.” Chavez said that high transportation costs were negatively affecting the area. He then read a resolution by the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters of the barge port wore green shirts with white lettering that said, “Support the Port,” and appeared to outnumber the opponents inside the City Council Chambers.



Opponents of the plan contend that the expansion would lower the value of their homes and property, increase pollution in the area, and cause an increase in heavy truck traffic that area roads cannot support.  They already claim that blasting at the current quarry site has resulted in cracks appearing in the foundations of their homes.

Don Simpson speaks in opposition to the rezoning

Don Simpson speaks in opposition to the rezoning

“…It struck me that those supporting this issue included executive vice president of a local bank; Mr. Ben Walker sales manager of the local VantaCore owned rock quarry; Cecil Morgan Jr. of Morgan Inc., and all the guys in the green shirts, which represent probably the total amount of the employees that VantaCore has in the local community here,” Don Simpson said. “The people that have been opposed to this and have expressed their disapproval all appear to be schlubs like me”

He was followed by Ramona Reese who implored the Council, “Our opposition is not due to some neighborhood hysteria, or fear of the unknown. Our concerns are legitimate because they are based on facts.” She then suggested that this matter was in violation of city and state codes and should not be before the Council at all. “The Friends of Dover Road feel like this has been a rush to rezone, and when humans rush they make mistakes often…Rushing causes bad decisions.”

Ramona Reese speaking in opposition to the rezoning

Ramona Reese speaking in opposition to the rezoning

Opponents of the barge port wore stickers that said, “No Barge Port.”

According to City Councilman Bill Summers in an email to his Constituents:

The closest home to the current quarry fence-line is about 800 feet. The barge expansion property will be about 1,000 feet from the nearest home. Except for the closets homes, the majority will be separated by 250 wooded acres of land as a buffer. A TVA power line separates that wooded land from the area of the proposed barge point. The land used for the proposed project by the river will have to be leveled and lowered so much, if not all, of the site will be below the horizon from the neighborhoods cutting any noise and light concerns even further.

The riverside loading and unloading facilities will dramatically lower the costs for bulk materials transported by river to Clarksville. For example the salt that the County Highway Department uses on the roads each winter is currently transported by barge from New Orleans, LA to Nashville, TN; then it is trucked from Nashville to Clarksville. The transportation costs are more for the 45 minute drive to Clarksville from Nashville than for the entire rest of the trip.

A tractor trailer truck carries about 25 tons of cargo; a jumbo hopper train car can carry about 100 tons, while a barge can transport 1,500 tons. To compare, one 15 barge tow on the Cumberland River carries 22,500 tons. That would equal 225 Jumbo Rail cars, or 900 trucks. This economical bulk transport ability is what makes river transport so attractive.

A barge port in Clarksville also has the added benefit of letting the river transport companies avoid the delays that are associated with locking through at Cheatham Lock and Dam.

The matter still faces a second vote before final approval which would likely occur at next month’s City Council meeting.

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About Bill Larson

    Bill Larson

    Bill Larson is the Creator and Publisher of Clarksville Online, and works as a network administrator for Compu-Net Enterprises. He is politically and socially active in the community. Bill serves on the board of the Clarksville Community Concert Association, and is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.

    You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.





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One Response to “Barge Point Expansion Receives Council Approval on First Reading”

  1. KathrynHawk Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Come on people. Is this the same city council that made a “verbal” agreement with Piper and we end up paying for the loss of our FairGrounds because a proper contract was not drawn up for the Marina? Ha that was through a verbal agreement. Small town politics ppl… not mess this one up our school taxes and homeowners taxes went up after the Fairgrounds stunt….don’t mess this up too for Clarksville.
    Who is thumbing the City Council and Da’s Office?
    Who is making up jobs and getting their loved ones positions.?/?


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