East Ridge City Council meetings are becoming must-see viewing on YouTube every other Thursday over dinner.
Only problem is the actions of staff and council tend to give one indigestion.
Last Thursday, I almost choked on my chowder when City Manager Chris Dorsey reassured our elected officials that the hubbub over the liquor store ordinance was produced by a handful of people on social media.
His statement was tantamount to thumbing his nose at the residents of this city. That attitude that city government knows what’s best for the peasants is irksome.
The Feb. 11 council meeting came on the heels of a B-1 story about the liquor store ordinance in the Chattanooga Times Free Press penned by Barry Courter. Dear reader, understand that the TFP only shows up in our town when what is known in the publishing business a “train wreck” has happened; in this case it appears it’s gonna be a slow motion train wreck as this story is going to unfold over months and months and months.
This train wreck could continue to unfold all the way to the 2022 council elections if our staff and elected officials don’t listen to the will of the people.
The current poll on East Ridge News Online asks a simple question: “Should East Ridge have only two liquor stores whose proprietors are chosen by lottery? The response has been an overwhelming “no!”
Some – especially those inside City Hall – may scoff at the poll … only 50 people have participated, it’s inaccurate, it’s not scientific.
Let me point out that another poll in East Ridge News Online asking if residents supported an ordinance allowing the sale of liquor in package stores in our city, showed 75 percent of those who participated (181) favored the measure. As it turned out, when all the votes were counted at the ballot box, about 75 percent voted in favor.
Draw your own conclusions. I’m convinced that most of the residents in this city think the liquor ordinance is a recipe for failure.
And speaking of recipes for failure, the last council meeting touched on a few slowly unfolding train wrecks the city is currently experiencing. The multi-modal project on Ringgold Road is stalled, according to our officials because the city was forced to “condemn” parcels along Ringgold Road to obtain rights-of-way. Never mind the city has spent more than $2 million to acquire more than a hundred separate parcels to install bloody sidewalks that nobody is going to benefit from.
Another slow-mo train wreck is down at Camp Jordan Park, “the crown jewel” of the city. It was explained that construction on the additional soccer fields has literally bogged down, as it’s too wet to move forward. Same with paving the 200-spot parking lot.
Let me remind our leaders that more than three years ago there were community meetings in this town to ask our residents what new recreational opportunities they might want. It was part of a five-year plan required by a state agency. Not a single person who participated asked for more soccer fields at Camp Jordan, or for that matter anywhere else in the city.
You know what they did ask for? Options for recreation in the middle and west end of our city. You know, things like a dog park, walking paths, some green space, a playground.
Oh, speaking of playgrounds. The much ballyhooed “splash pad” that was rolled out two years ago isn’t even close to making a “big splash.” No, the plans for the million dollar splash pad and park, which were prepared by a local company, lack an engineer’s stamp. Evidently, that’s something that state officials require on a big project. I guess the guys on our team didn’t realize that because the current plans lack said stamp.
Residents in our city have come to expect such disappointment. But at last Thursday’s council meeting the thing that screamed disappointment to this writer was the issue of heavy garbage cans. That’s right, HEAVY CANS.
Here’s a little background. Years ago, city officials instituted a sanitation policy for the older folks in this town. Just let City Hall know you can’t manage the new 90-gallon garbage can on wheels and our sanitation workers will haul it out to the street for you, dump it, then put it back. A great service.
Fast forward to last Thursday’s meeting. It was announced that the sanitation guys were “complaining” that the big cans were too heavy to move. Here’s the city manager’s solution … smaller cans. That’s right. If you participate in the program now, your can will be replaced with a 45-gallon can. Oh, and the kicker … if you participate in the recycling program, forget about our sanitation guys hauling that big boy to the street for you any longer. No, you are on your own with that one.
Problem solved. Sanitation guys happy. Old folks, maybe not so much. But, if you sit on the council you got no worries. I guess its better to keep city employees content compared to keeping a segment of your constituents – you know the people that vote – happy.
Besides, City Manager Dorsey is there to reassure council that there will only be a small number of people on social media who will complain.
However, there’s a chance that on election day 2022 complaints will be filed not via social media but via the ballot box.