I am told the little auditorium at the Lookout Mountain Elementary School was pretty much full when a town forum was held on Thursday night to inform the citizenry about a proposed site for a physician’s clinic and, after living in a Camelot of a community for nigh on 60 years, I wish it had never happened.
Oh, I understand and applaud the need for every voice to be heard, but I can guarantee you not one person who went to the meeting left it with a different frame of mind. All a town forum does, especially with a tribe where there are so many chiefs and so few Indians, is get folks worked up to the point where they say stupid things, stare at their neighbors, and foster the worst word in politics -- angst
Everyone on Lookout Mountain will agree the dual Tennessee-Georgia community desperately needs to have a functioning medical facility. Goodness knows one of my closest friends was diagnosed with stroke problems last week and the ambulance that hurdled him off the hill was the fourth-life saving vehicle dispatched from the now-inadequate clinic is as many weeks.
he trouble with tranquil Lookout Mountain, and many other bedroom communities, is that while everybody will do whatever it takes to keep it, not many want to live next to it. That’s where progress – not to be confused with politics – gets stopped. And if you ain’t moving forward in this day and age – don’t fool yourself – you are backing up.
The notion that Lookout Mountain is short on green space is patiently absurd. Truth be known, there are almost 20 “parks” on the mountain, not to mention gorgeous yards, beautiful trees along the roads and a wide-open contentment that can be enjoyed visually on any given day by the many people who walk in happy exercise with their friends. Green space, my foot.
At question is a small parcel of property known as Verlenden Park, which is neighbored by the now-idle Baptist Church. In all my years the only persons I have ever seen in that park are the municipal crews who keep it tidy. The site, unless you are its neighbor, would be ideal for a tasteful and well-equipped medical center with ample parking.
But suddenly those who seem to gravitate towards angst and see discontent as a reason to bang their drum all the more loudly, began petitions and posted signs and – laughingly – demanded a police investigation when some of the elementary-school braves dashed away with them by cover of night.
Lordy, they could have had an anti-abortion rally, a Voter ID symposium or a fish fry and not attracted more people. Granted, it gave the newly-elected Town Commission a chance to listen and be seen but what those elected seem to have missed is that they were elected to lead, not moderate a doomed discussion that did nothing but serve as more of a carnival. C’mon, no matter what was said, the mayor and commissioners still must make a decision – why sully the waters beforehand?
Being a public servant is hard enough but when you try to please everyone, and to be dutifully patient as you are called from the dinner table or away from those who are paying you a wage to direct your attention elsewhere, you’ll soon spend so much time chasing your tail and howling at the moon there is no way you’ll ever be elected again. Town forums are nothing short of a waste of everyone’s time and it has been proven for decades – nobody ever changes their mind when emotion and dagger-like glares cross the aisle. Need an example? How about our present-day Congress?
Next week humble developer Jimmy Chapin will present a plan for what is roughly called “the Georgia stores,” a collection of several businesses located about one mile and one state line away from “the Tennessee stores.” Both business clusters are begging for progress but until leadership is displayed, stagnation will result in both areas and this – as all will agree – hurts real estate prices, fluid growth and tax revenue.
Neither governing body of mountain neighbors will do anything until that presentation but – wait – with the current clinic having Erlanger Hospital ties, the word is that now Memorial Hospital is trying to wiggle a similar plan that would post a satellite clinic on Lookout Mountain and both communities are too small to support two facilities. What a fine kettle of fish.
Lookout Mountain has never been known for angst. Oh, there have been some delicious moments but the air of gentlemanly negotiations and the importance of friendship has forever, up until now, kept the public from the airing of the laundry and hidden away “the drum bangers.” Politicians are duly elected to handle any problems and decisions – really – and without any appearance of angst.
But what happened? When you gather all the chiefs for a town forum, and throw in petitions and angry neighbors and those who are so bored they clamor for a seat just to “watch how everyone will act,” – Katie bar the door – you are unwittingly asking for trouble in just about any town you care to study.
Lookout Mountain needs leaders, not moderators, if ever progress hopes to happen.