It has been an interesting week seeing the back and forth between Roy Exum and Tim Boyd regarding the upcoming idea of a $15 million expansion at Camp Jordan. While everyone seemed to argue over how it should be done, no one seemed to ask if it should be done.
To me it’s as simple as this; what would the most positive result be from this, and is that what East Ridge needs most?
So, best case is we have a really big park and bring a lot of folks into town to visit that park. All those extra folks bring in enough money for East Ridge and Hamilton County to make the project pay for itself and maybe contribute to the bottom line. The property on Camp Jordan Parkway gets developed (which is why the owners of that property are the ones pushing to do this) and we see some new development near the highway.
This is a great result if you’re Tim Boyd because you have made some special interests happy, some folks in East Ridge happy, and since most of those visitors will end up near Hamilton Place Mall, which is also in your district, you made them happy.
What does this do for those of us outside the quarter mile near the highway? Nothing.
Stores and developments on Ringgold Rd will remain half filled. Crime will be unchanged. Our fire department will remain understaffed. Any possible increase to the budget from the money brought in by visitors will just be spent providing services and staffing to service that area with more cops, sanitation, and park personnel.
Not to mention that all this is being done to chase the remnants of a dying retail industry that may not survive in its current form the 20 years the project will be bonded out. I have to ask myself when malls on Brainerd Road and Hixson are struggling how can any major retailer survive in East Ridge with a quarter of the traffic?
It’s time to ditch the idea of using a relic of the past to grow the future.
If we want a better East Ridge we need to focus on East Ridge, not one single street in East Ridge.
Let’s reduce crime, fully staff our fire department and work with the school district to make sure our kids get a great education. Let’s promote East Ridge and make it a place where people want to live.
Do this and the city, the WHOLE city, will be a better place.