Roy Exum: Brentwood Goes "Signal" And We Get Topped By Williamson County Sports Visionaries

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Brentwood is one of Tennessee’s wealthiest communities and is the glittering star of Williamson County. But with Nashville growing by leaps and bounds, all is not warm and fuzzy in the land of milk and honey. Brentwood is on the verge of "pulling a Signal Mountain."

That’s what they are calling "Study Brentwood," the first step in the city of Brentwood leaving the Williamson County school district. What is odd is that Brentwood has little in common with Memphis, where six "districts" were started in 2014 when the Shelby County city and county schools merged, or with Signal Mountain’s current study of bolting from the Hamilton County district.

In Shelby County 59 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged. In Hamilton County, none of the 35 percent who are economically disadvantaged are from Signal Mountain – thus the threat because the consensus is that the poor take funds away from what the mountain residents feel they should be getting.

But Brentwood is completely different. Just four percent of its students are disadvantaged but this rage comes from the fact over-crowded schools are causing middle school students to eat lunch at 9:45 a.m. and those whose children are being rezoned are mad. Brentwood enjoys the best public education in the state but now the community has been told to expect 10,000 additional students within the next five years.

Brentwood is already "built out," with zoning requirements that allow only one dwelling per acre, but with Nashville's phenomenal growth, every penny must be used to build new schools to accept the influx in other parts of the county. Brentwood says its aging buildings need repairs, to heck with the $18 million just budgeted to expand the middle and high school.

The angry townsfolk claim the 20-person County Commission got lazy at developing long-term financial plans. "We want to see our option and understand what is possible," said Study Brentwood committee member David Brooks in the Nashville Tennessean.

Committee head Grady Tabor insists there are just two questions: "Can we do a (local) school system and ‘should’ we do a local system. Right now we just want the ‘can’ part answered. Just like Signal Mountain, factions are split. And even Governor Bill Haslam is in on the Brentwood argument.

"I tend to think the whole secession idea — I hate to see us get carried away with that," Haslam allegedly told some reporters last week. "There's always been a benefit to communities that are all part of one area, and being a community together, and figuring out our problems, whether it be rural schools or urban schools, or whatever the challenges may be."

* * *

There are many things I don’t understand and I am grateful I can recognize it most of the time. But color me perplexed over the push-back in the community over a sports complex in East Ridge. Just over 2,000 votes on Chattanoogan.com were evenly split in the question: "Should a larger sports complex be built at Camp Jordan in East Ridge using taxes from the Bass Pro Shop development?"

To me it is a no-brainer. East Ridge’s Camp Jordan is a perfect spot and, with Stump Martin’s expertise in managing the site, we should have broken ground by now. A few critics are worried that flooding could cause havoc with the artificial turf playing areas but the manufacturers of today’s synthetic surfaces laugh at any such notion. Ditto for the eight-lane all-weather track.

The biggest reason to move forward – and I’m talking immediately – is because Chattanooga is falling behind in too many areas. In Williamson County (think Brentwood, Franklin, Spring Hill) they just did a feasibility study for a sports complex because the fast-growing county is expected to have an influx of 350,000 additional people in the next 25 years. (Yes, 350,000 is currently the entire population of Hamilton County.)

The feasibility study came back suggesting two complexes. Remember, we are talking about a $15 million complex at Camp Jordan so Williamson County believes $125 million makes better sense. (You can download the study at www.williamsonco-tn.gov).

* -- The INDOOR facility will have 10 basketball courts, 20 volleyball courts, two ice sheets for regulation hockey, two indoor turf fields for regulation football and soccer, and parking for 1,200 cars. The projected price is $65.93 million.

* -- The OUTDOOR facility will have 21 multipurpose fields, 12 softball and baseball diamonds and parking for another 3,600 cars. The projected price is $60.96 million.

Of course, Williamson County’s thinking is they want to be the regional player. They want to draw from the entire state and want to appeal to travel teams all over the South. Gordon Hampton, the Williamson County recreation director, says the trend is for bedroom communities outside big metro areas to build huge sports complexes.

"They are a great perk for the citizens during the week and then they keep restaurants and hotels full on the weekends," he told the Nashville newspaper, adding Williamson County is looking at 2 million hotel nights in a 20-year plan that will generate $36.85 million in hotel-motel taxes alone.

Hamilton County has fallen behind other mid-sized cities in tapping the weekend sports travel market. Outside Atlanta there is a complex being built with a price tag in excess of $100 million but in Chattanooga there is not a track that could host a college meet. It is easy to say Chattanooga’s participation-sports facilities are the in the bottom 10 percent of comparable cities in the South.

If you aren’t moving forward, you are unwittingly moving the other way in today’s world. Nobody stands still any more.

royexum@aol.com



Supporting Cate White For Circuit Court Judge - And Response (4)

I am writing on behalf of Catherine "Cate" White in support of her campaign for Circuit Court judge. Catherine White has, as a member of the Hamilton County Republican Women, been active in ideas and principles that better promote local and national government that affects citizens' everyday lives.  I have known Catherine White since I began tutoring her son, Shiloh, several ... (click for more)

Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus, House Republicans Weekly Wrap Up

The Tennessee Senate passed several key bills this week, including the state budget and major legislation to curb opioid abuse, as the 2018 session of the Tennessee General Assembly draws to a close. The $37.5 billion “no growth” budget proposes state government spending for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018 and extends to June 30, 2019.  The balanced budget, ... (click for more)

McCallie Coach From 90s Who Is Now Deceased Is Accused Of Abusing Students

A McCallie School coach from the 1990s who is now deceased is being accused of abusing students at the private prep school. Two former students said Steve Carpenter sexually abused them. Carpenter was the basketball coach at McCallie for 11 seasons - through 1999. He was boys basketball coach at Ridgeland High School beginning in 2000. Carpenter was arrested ... (click for more)

County Commission Committee Recommends 2-Year Terms For Magistrates; To Advertise For 2 Openings After Pay Raise

A committee of the County Commission has recommended that county magistrates have two-year terms, instead of one year, and for the commission to take applications on two open seats. The commission will proceed with advertising for the two posts and make an official announcement next Wednesday. Applications will then be taken until May 8. The commission will interview candidates ... (click for more)

Peyton Manning To Be Inducted To Academic All America Hall Of Fame

Legendary Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning will be one of the newest members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America Hall of Fame when the four-person 2018 Class is inducted this summer.   The Academic All-America Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. on June 28 at the CoSIDA and NACDA ... (click for more)

Rahaan Gaulden Ready For 2018 NFL Draft

  Rashaan Gaulden is ready for the next level. His nearly four years at the University of Tennessee have prepared him for the NFL and the former Vol defensive back is expected to hear his name called this weekend at the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. “There’s a relief and a calmness about it all because of all of the hard work I know I put in ... (click for more)