Gamblers want to risk it for chances of more. Savers want to keep it. The frugal are careful about giving it away. The lavish use it as a status symbol. Our politics, our cities, our country, and even our world are carved up and deeply divided by money.
In East Ridge there are two main camps. The camp that wants to avoid further spending and protect the current tax rate forcing citizens from having to pay more. And the opposing camp that is convinced the solution to our city’s problems is to spend more, to “entice” people and business owners to choose East Ridge.
Money, I believe, is at the heart of the hoopla surrounding the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
If you go back and listen carefully to what’s being said in council meetings it’s clear why the Housing Authority was formed and it has absolutely nothing to do with housing and everything to do with redevelopment.
In my opinion, this authority was created to be used as leverage to force extended stay hotels to clean up their act in a big way or be removed permanently through eminent domain, via the housing authority.
In Tennessee, you see, housing authorities have broad powers they can use to acquire property they designate as blighted to carry out a redevelopment plan.
Honestly, I believe these properties need to be wiped clean from the East Ridge map if they cannot bring their standards up significantly. They act as an incubator for crime and as an eyesore to the surrounding area. Most importantly they act as a foil in our attempt to change the city’s image and attract the businesses and families needed to make East Ridge grow.
The problem is these actions won’t be easy or cheap. Unless the housing authority hires its own lawyer, work done for it will be billed at a rate of $175 an hour by our City Attorney. When you’re trying to seize property via eminent domain there are lots of legal fees. These fees are over and above the cost of putting together redevelopment plans and making good faith offers of purchase to the business owners.
East Ridge will end up allocating a portion of its yearly Border Region reimbursement to “feed the beast” of the housing authority. Of course they haven’t done that yet but as someone who can regularly predict the end of the movie, I’m fairly confident we will see this being proposed sometime soon.
Still, my opinion is this is a step worth taking and I have no beef with the unspoken plans of the housing authority.
Where I take up residence in the “naysayer” club is simply with the unspoken part. I am a bright individual, I can see the forest for the trees. I don’t need to be let down gently, coddled, or treated with “kid gloves.” Give it to me straight and while I might not like it, I will certainly respect and value the honesty of the situation.
For some reason in East Ridge there is an overwhelming idea that the citizens simply can’t handle the truth. So we are fed small, bitter pills that while tasting sour are easily digestible.
For once I just wish the planning and plotting would end and that the true purpose of something be laid bare for us all to observe, ponder, discuss and move forward.
I have some hope that as things progress and we get a mostly new council after the next election, things may be different. I find our newest council members to be refreshingly honest and open with no hidden agenda.
Until then I know from speaking to various citizens that all the bitter pills have left many residents feeling disenfranchised as they walk away from council meetings with bad tastes in their mouths and feeling sick.
For the people pulling the strings that may have been the plan all along.