Emails show official wanted to avoid buying insurance through taxpayer-funded project

Emails written by a town commissioner show in July 2021 she pushed that a floodwall be built in the neighborhood to direct water away from houses.
Updated: Nov. 21, 2022 at 5:55 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NOLENSVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - When it rains heavily on Bradfield Drive, back yards turn into streams of water.

Emails obtained by WSMV4 Investigates written by town commissioner Lisa Garramone show in July 2021 she pushed that a floodwall be built in the neighborhood to direct water away from houses.

A review of FEMA maps show that five homes on the street, that were previously not in flood plains, are now deemed to be in a flood zone.

Nolensville flood plain map
Nolensville flood plain map(Photo submitted)

One of the five homes belongs to Garramone.

The early bid to pay for the project: $380,000.

While Garramone did eventually disclose that her home was on Bradfield Drive, emails obtained by WSMV4 Investigates shows she privately wrote of wanting to avoid paying personal flood insurance by having the flood wall installed.

“We really need it built so we can start the process with FEMA to get off the (flood plain) list before he hit February 2022 so we don’t have to pay the ridiculous flood insurance again,” Garramone wrote to town manager Victor Lay in July 2021.

WSMV4 Investigates showed the emails to Larry Gardner, a citizen who opposed the flood water project.

“It’s only going to help a few people,” Gardner said. “We have a lot of areas in this community that flood more often and worse. I think it’s a pet project to help a few people. to try to get out of paying flood insurance.”

In August 2021, Garramone writes, “Can we work to expedite this? Several homeowners are hoping this wall is installed in time for them to not waster another $650-$900 for flood insurance and their policies comes up in December.”

After Garramone ghosted WSMV4 for an interview to discuss the ticket fixing scandal in which her traffic ticket was dismissed by police chief Roddy Parker, Garramone agreed to answer our questions.

“I think it comes down to perception,” WSMV4 Investigates said.

“I totally understand that,” Garramone said.

“You’re a commissioner. And this email - it’s very clear you want to protect your personal belongings by spending a lot of taxpayer dollars,” WSMV Investigates said.

“To be fair, when the cost of that wall came back, I agreed with the rest of the commission, that we were not going to spend that kind of money,” Garramone said.

“At the time (of sending the email) you thought this would get you out of paying flood insurance,” WSMV4 Investigates said.

“Correct. Hang on for a second, let me walk you through,” Garramone said.

She then went on to explain that when she and her neighbors bought in 2016, they didn’t know that FEMA would later place them in a flood plain.

Garramone said she thought the floodwall would make she and her neighbors whole again, before realizing that it would ultimately not remove them from the flood plain. Garramone also said the floodwall would protect the infrastructure of the street itself, because if floodwaters damage the road and its culvert, then the city would have to pay for it.

In response to criticism that she’s spent so much time trying to advance the floodwall project to benefit herself, Garramone said she’s also worked on getting flood mitigation projects for other citizens.

But none of that erases the fact that at the time she sent the email, she stood to personally benefit from a taxpayer funded project.

“I understand why it sounds that way in the email, when you look at the dollars and cents of it, it’s not a financial gain. It would just make people whole and get them back where they started,” Garramone said.

WSMV4 Investigates had additional questions for Garramone about the ticket fixing scandal, including the fact that she knew that her traffic ticket had been dismissed by police chief Roddy Parker but didn’t say anything.

Garramone answers those questions on WSMV4 at 10.