During communication from the audience at the Bradley County Commission work session meeting Monday evening, resident Dan Rawls addressed the commission in regards to a flyer he helped pass out to residents living in the area near the old Whirlpool plant.
He said, “I probably started a little controversy over a flyer situation that was based on some city-planned stuff. There was some expression that we shouldn’t have been able to pass those flyers out. Apparently, they didn’t like what the flyer said, even though the flyers were true based on the information we had.
In a recent Cleveland City Council meeting, City Mayor Tom Rowland said, “This flyer was anonymously passed out in the city. We do know that we don’t want the old Whirlpool factory to become a blighted part of our community and devalue property in the area. We don’t want that to happen. That’s why we formed the Southside Development Committee.”
Mayor Rowland went on to say, “My concern is this. The 20-plus families that called who were fearful of the propaganda in this flyer are upset because of this. I’m upset that somebody who is anonymous thinks they have a right to spread untruths to the citizens in our community. To tell them things, and put fear into their minds that are not true, things very unlikely to happen. I think this is some sort of tactic to scare people. We do want to get rid of eyesores and blight and that’s what we intend to do with the old Whirlpool property. I think this is a very cruel hoax on the citizens of our community to put this flyer in their doors. This is sneaky and at its very best deceiving. Whoever wrote this should be exposed. I’m going to ask the council for a vote to ask police chief, city attorney and the district attorney’s office to do a full investigation on this matter and determine if any laws were broken and try to uncover source of this flyer.”
Commissioner Ed Elkins spoke to Dan Rawls’ comments. He said, “I’m pretty familiar with that side of town. When I was growing up, we called this area the other side of the tracks. I lived on the other side of the tracks. Back in the late 60’s or early 70’s, during the height of the great society, there was an organization formed in town and I’m not sure what the name of it was, but they got a federal grant and came in and literally took the people’s property over there around 4th Street and East Street and that is now known as the East Street projects, Cleveland Housing Authority.
"My aunt had a house there. The Housing Authority took that property and paid her squat for it. My mother went with her to the appeals meeting and appealed the eviction of the eminent domain proceedings. She was told, and this is burned into my memory, ‘We’ve got to do that for the good of the community. We’re going to go in there and renovate that and re-do it. We’re going to put a better class of people in there.’ You can imagine the emotions that a lot of those people that lived there were going through when they got pushed out. The amount of money they got was not really enough to buy suitable housing, but because they worked and had some income, they didn’t qualify to live in the new houses and apartments that were being built. It kind of stirred some old memories when there was talk of a re-development down there and using TIFF to finance it.
"I can understand why there were some people who were upset when they got the partial news. It is considered a blight area. The city of Cleveland and Bradley County needs to think long and hard on how they’re affecting people’s lives when they jump in mandating people give up their property, even if it is market value. To take it from them, that’s something they’ve worked hard for and in many cases, it’s been passed down from generation to generation. This commissioner will never support something like that.”
Only seven of the 14 Bradley County commissioners attended the short work session meeting to discuss items to be placed on next week’s agenda.
The items are as follows:
-Resolution fixing the tax levy.-Resolution fixing the tax levy of the county fire district.
-Resolution making appropriations for the various funds, department, institutions, offices and agencies.
-Resolution making appropriations to non-profit organizations.
-Resolution to request non-profit organizations to set up appointments for five-minute presentations to the Bradley County Commission.
-Resolution to accept a rezoning request by The Broadway Group to rezone Map 58E Group A Parcel 20.00 and 21.00 located at Cherokee Drive and Waterlevel Highway from Forestry/Agricultural/Residential (FAR) to Rural Commercial (C-1). The site is currently vacant and the intended use for the property is a 9,100-square-foot single tenant retail store. The rezoning is recommended by the Planning Commission with a unanimous vote.
The Bradley County Commission will hold their next voting session meeting next Monday at 7 p.m.