Hey, Helen Burns Sharp...You know I love you...But, c'mon....
Honestly, What Downtown "Needs"? You are my hero when it comes to reporting on fairness and injustice in taxation. I bow to your experience and insight and you are one of the few vocal people in this town whom I respect and listen to regularly. We've worked together and played together but, this time, I've got to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with you.
Downtown doesn't "need" anything else until those of us who live outside of downtown start to get some of the millions of "extra" dollars that we seem to have for "downtown". Thanks to Kim and River City, "downtown" has seen a seemingly endless supply of money, TIF's, development districts, art spaces, green spaces, parks, etc. that are all being mostly funded on the backs of those of us who don't live downtown.
Hooray that Chattanooga is getting national attention as a great place to live. Hooray that downtown has lots of things to attract tourists to visit and bring their dollars. Hooray that all of those things are also available to those of us who don't live downtown.
Truth is, the majority of Chattanooga taxpaying residents don't live downtown, or even play downtown. Both you and Kim do, so I understand the tunnel vision on your end. However, the rest of us are sick and tired of being the "step-children" to the "Downtowners". We are actually the majority but "those with the power make the rules" so, for years, we have taken a backseat.
We were told that millions of our tax dollars "needed" to go to Volkswagen because our economy would see a tremendous boost from the additional jobs. We were also told that millions of dollars of investment in our downtown area would bring lots and lots of tourist dollars. I've watched as huge numbers of new property-tax paying houses have been built in this town. I've also seen the numbers on the increased tourist revenue. So, what is the end result for those of us who sat back and watched all those millions go to Volkswagen and downtown? Where did all of the new property tax dollars go? Increased tourist tax revenue? I'm not really sure because my taxes actually increased and things like basic services (road maintenance in particular) have become almost non-existent.
We are fed up. To read the newspaper about a "revitalization" of the Riverfront when we can't even get a road crew to put some asphalt in a pothole makes us exasperated. We are experiencing hundreds and hundreds of auto thefts in our neighborhoods but there are no police out here--they are downtown. But lets put a new million dollar park downtown when there was nothing wrong with the old one? Oh yeah, let's give some creative financing to a developer and also spend millions to make another entrance to the Riverwalk because? How about let's make a couple of the exits off of Highway 27 look like flower gardens (Yes, the bulk of the money to put them in will be donated but what will we have to contribute? We will at least have to maintain them). Sorry...I got a little passionate there...
Helen, you are one of the most fair people that I know. I'm not sure how often you leave downtown in your car or how far out you venture, but our roads out here are starting to look worse than many third-world countries that I have visited. I have had to pay for repairs to my car because of the awful state of our local streets.
In every poll I have seen, one of the top priority things that our residents complain about is our roads, yet they continue to deteriorate year after year. I know that your list of "wishes" for downtown is well thought out and in a perfect world is probably the absolute best solution to those challenges. But to those of us living outside of downtown where we are not getting our most basic needs met, making downtown more friendly for pedestrians is not only not on our radar, it is not in our galaxy.
Instead of writing about "What Downtown Needs" could I possibly get you to take a larger view of what the rest of us are experiencing and take up our cause instead? I can't think of anyone who would be better. Again, you know I love you and I can't think of a time when we weren't on the same page but the injustice here has just gotten to be ridiculous.
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This is an excellent piece by Lynn Ashton, whoever she is. I assume it's woman. But she's so spot on and it's so well expressed, and she's so right about the awful state of the roads around here.
Whether you ride down Broad Street, beautiful historic North and South Crest roads, or dozens of other streets in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, if you slow down and take your time you jostle so much you get the feeling you're riding in a covered wagon. The roads are that sorry.
What's ironic is Chattanooga is the home of Roadtec over on Manufacturers Road. There's enough equipment and road building expertise at Roadtec to solve all of the road problems in short order. This I would know, I was the engineering supervisor there for 30 years, however I'm retired now.
Those guys and girls in that engineering department are expert and extremely knowledgeable about road building equipment and methods. The equipment is high tech and ready to roll. They can provide the equipment and expertise in short order to solve every bump and pothole in the county. They even do what is known as cold in-place recycling. That's a process used on rural roads where they mill up the road, remix the asphalt and lay it back down.
Pavers, screeds, milling machines, material transfer vehicles and even stabilizers are built and sitting over on Manufacturers Road. They're the nation's best equipment and best engineers. That's everything you need to make Chattanooga and Hamilton County a showplace of excellent roads.
So, I kinda wonder - what's with the lousy roads around here? Why aren't the local governments partnering with this great local company to get the roads resurfaced? Oh, and you do know Roadtec is an Astec company and Chattanooga is the home of Astec corporation, don't you? Corporate headquarters are over on Airport Road.
Anyway, I'm retired and nobody now, but I was for a long time a minor player at one of Chattanooga's best employers and I know what they can do. Investing in that company of local people and expert engineers would be a win-win for the problem of sorry roads around here. The Chattanooga and Hamilton County governments oughta do it. If they don't do it, oughta be ashamed. This is the home of America's best road building corporation. Just no reason to be bumping along.
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I wish I could travel downtown to the “Riverfront revitalization” and observe first-hand the vital improvements needed with my tax money but my sedan has been disabled by our roads in the downtown “outskirts” by the potholes, sinkholes and lack of maintenance and I’m not willing to risk my 4x4 as it is not rated for BAJA travel and it is now my only functioning vehicle.
I now rely on it to get to work so I can pay our city and county property taxes for this much-needed revitalization. I am still holding out for about a foot of snow to fill the hazards in our roads for safer travel, but I’m not holding my breath.
And please, if we don’t get the much-needed snowfall please feel free to throw the leftover asphalt after the downtown overhaul in piles around the “outskirts” of our beautiful city and we as taxpayers can pull out our shovels and fix the roads as we see fit. It won’t be the first time we have had to take matters into our own hands.