Lookout Mountain, Tn., Gearing Up For Bicycle Races; Commission Passes Cell Tower Ordinance On 2nd Reading

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - by Gail Perry

The U.S. Pro Championship cycling race, which is a qualifier for the Olympics, will be returning to Lookout Mountain this year for the second time. Chairman of the Board of Outdoor Chattanooga John Karr and Phillip Grimes, executive director, came to the Lookout Mountain, Tn. commission meeting Tuesday night to talk about the plans and scheduling for the event that will be held Memorial Day.

Both the men’s and women’s races start in downtown Chattanooga where the course will cross the river and travel through North Chattanooga and the UTC campus before coming up the mountain.

The route will take the bikers up Ochs Highway and South Forrest Avenue to Scenic Highway where it will then turn to go down the mountain. There will be rolling closures of the roads as the bikers arrive and leave.

The women will begin the first of two climbs up Ochs Highway at 9:50 a.m. and the second lap should exit via Scenic Highway by 11 a.m. The route of three short circuits downtown and two long circuits that include the mountain totals 64.7 miles. Last year the women averaged 23 mph for this race.

The men’s route is a total of 102.8 miles consisting of four long laps through town and up the mountain. They will start up Ochs Highway at 2:15 p.m. and clear the mountain for the last time at 4:40 p.m. Last year the average speed of the men’s race was 24.8 mph.

Emergency equipment and personnel with support from Erlanger will be stationed at the top of the mountain and, in the case of an emergency, the race will be halted. Tourist traffic will be accommodated by four Carta buses that will pick up people at the bottom parking lot of the Incline. The bus route will first stop at Rock City with a second stop at the top Incline station. A third will be made at Ruby Falls and the route will continue down the mountain to the place where it began. There will be a separate bus route to and from Finley Stadium to the lower Incline parking lot. Spectators will be able to get off a bus to watch the race and leave on another. Mayor Carol Mutter commented that this is “a great opportunity to showcase our community.”

The town’s new cell phone ordinance was passed on second reading. City Attorney Brian Smith said construction of a tower cannot be prevented based solely on aesthetics and that by federal law the town must allow cell phone companies to provide adequate service. The new ordinance will give Lookout Mountain some input in the placement and appearance of what is ultimately built.

Proposals from Wireless Properties and AT&T will be re-submitted in accordance with the ordinance passed Tuesday night and from that time the town will have 150 days to hold a public meeting and to negotiate terms. That public meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, May 1, at 6 p.m. at Lookout Mountain School. Mayor Mutter hopes to have a good turnout to hear the presentations, and to participate in discussion and to ask questions. She said no decision will be made that night.

Walker Jones, commissioner of public works, announced that milling the roads around Point Park has begun and will continue at Lincoln Street and the alley between East Brow Road and North Hermitage. Paving will follow and should be completed soon. He also said that repairs are scheduled for the stone wall that collapsed at the intersection of North Bragg and Sunset beside Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church.

A meeting of all the garden clubs on the mountain with Mr. Jones and Joe Hailey, commissioner of parks and playgrounds, was held recently at the home of Carolyn Doster. A council was formed that will organize and coordinate all of the clubs for maintaining the parks and green spaces on the mountain. A special thanks was given to Jimmy Stewart who volunteers his time with all of the garden clubs.

A reminder was given that the dumpster will be available every other month and that a truck from the Salvation Army will be parked and available at the same time to accept donations.

Ernie Minges, commissioner of police and fire, read the monthly statistics that Chief Randy Bowden compiled. During March the police responded to 81 calls, patrolled 4,799 miles, and answered 18 burglar alarms with 17 being false and one suspect being caught at the scene. There was one theft from a vehicle in March. Six assist citizen calls were answered, and nine 911 calls. There were two auto accidents with no injuries and 24 traffic stops. Nine medical calls were made and five fire alarms were checked which were all false. The fire department assisted Georgia on one structure fire.

A potentially dangerous situation occurred last Sunday in the empty lot next to the incline.  A man from Chattanooga trying to evade felony charges turned a knife on a Lookout Mountain, Tn. officer. During an attempt to apprehend him, the man jumped down an eight-foot-high wall into a briar patch trying to escape. He was pulled back up by other responding officers aided by the fire department and was then arrested by the Chattanooga Police Department with multiple felony charges.

A reminder for dog walkers and cars to be aware of each other and for cars to use lights in foggy conditions was made by Commissioner Minges. He also said that car stickers are now available at city hall for five dollars until June first when the price will increase to ten dollars. He asked for anyone selling a car to remove their sticker. Dog tags will be available April 27.

Principal Ruth White, speaking for Commissioner of Schools Don Stinnett, gave the upcoming schedule of events at Lookout Mountain School. Spring break is from April 14-18. The next PTA meeting is at 6 p.m. April 22. TCAP testing will take place from April 29-May 2. Graduation is May 22 at 9 a.m. with Pastor Joe Novenson as speaker.

The parks and playgrounds commissioner announced that the baseball parade will be Saturday, April 26. The big event will begin in the parking lot at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church at 8 a.m. This year Nick Senter who was one of the original founders of the Dixie Youth Organization and who has been inducted into the Dixie Boys Baseball Hall of Fame will be recognized during the event. Commissioner Hailey also reported that work on replacing the tennis courts is now in progress.

In his financial report, Town Consultant Dwight Montague told the commissioners that building permits are up this year with a lot of construction taking place. He noted this is good for the tax base as well as for getting new neighbors. The annual contribution of $23,000 from Lookout Mountain, Ga. for recreation has been received, as has the second contribution of the year from the PTA. Revenue is about $150,000 ahead of last year he said.

The insurance deductable of $1,000 was paid to replace two police radios. Construction on the patio railing and floors at town hall is now complete. Safety equipment was bought for one of the city’s trucks this month and an old patrol car was replaced with a Ford Explorer which now provides the town with two, four-wheel drive vehicles. Mr. Montague also said that with the security cameras now installed, there is around $32,000 left in the security fund. It will be used for the yearly operating costs of electricity and internet service amounting to $10,000-$12,000.

Mayor Mutter introduced two candidates, Brook Pippinger and Jim Bentley ,who will be running for a position on the board of commissioners in August. She also asked that citizens keep the Town Hall Reports that were mailed to every house this month, for reference. She also explained a recent change that was required for the town’s solicitation ordinance. People are now permitted to go door to door to give their religious or political ideology if they do not ask for money. Any commercial solicitor that does ask for money is required to get a permit. Residents can obtain a blue sticker at the city hall for their mailbox to indicate that the homeowner does not want to be solicited at all.

The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain Commission will be Tuesday, May 13, at 5 p.m.

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