I know that there will never be a good time to discuss the hiring of a Parks and Recreation Director after Director Stump Martin’s passing away. He was synonymous with Camp Jordan and Kids! The City of East Ridge has posted the Parks & Recreation position on the eastridgetn.gov website.
I am glad to see the City is asking for a bachelor’s degree in recreation or related field and a minimum of three years experience. That all sounds good but it does not necessarily mean they will hire the most qualified candidate. This city has usually promoted from within, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Promoting someone who is already working at Camp Jordan might be an option, but that person may not have the listed degree for qualifications.
That’s where the clause “or related field” enters into the equation. In the end, the city will do whatever it wants to do, period! The city doesn’t care that much about what the citizens want and prefer to have as their parks and recreation director.
I have lived and worked in East Ridge my whole life. At an early age, I would walk to Kingwood and get candy. Mom would get our clothes at Loveman’s. I was teaching swim lessons at the old East Ridge Youth Foundation at 14. I worked at “Double Dip Depot” at the age of 15, riding my bike back and forth from work. I had a great community for work and recreation back then.
As the west end of the city is sinking into decline, is there any chance to revitalize the area? The city is trying to make it such that we should be grateful to the developers for bringing in new businesses. How is the $6 million-plus spent on Exit 1 going to revive the west end of the city? Well, it won’t. And, that is a fact that our elected leaders seem to ignore.
The residents of the west end of town deserve to be heard and not left behind.
The city has already authorized a $2.3 million makeover for Camp Jordan to be done after the new fiscal year. I think the fact that there are two different fence colors at the park is not a big deal! Does it really need to be replaced so they match? The facade/looks of the buildings is another line item that is not needed. However, the restrooms need updating to be functional and open for the public as well.
East Ridge does not have enough NEW, CLEAN, and SAFE lodging to reap many of the economic benefits.
The Waverly is still a black eye for the community. With all new development around the Waverly, it stands out like a sore thumb. For the life of me I can’t understand why that place is still accepted and in business in East Ridge. The crime and drug scene has found a home there for sure! The owner of the Waverly has expressed interest in building a liquor store on the premises and shutting down the roach motel. That would almost be the lesser of two evils.
City Manager Scott Miller told the Industrial Development Board in February of 2017 that the city was working with the owner of the Waverly to potentially build a new structure on the site that would be the home of a new sport’s-themed restaurant.
So where does this effort stand now? It seems to have stalled before it was even seriously considered.
The citizens of East Ridge have been subsidizing the parks and recreation budget for sometime. Why do I have to pay taxes for Hamilton County’s youth to have a place for ball games? How does that impact our tax base?
The last economic impact study that was performed in early 2016 was not an independent study and only used data that was provided to Dr. William Legg from the Chattanooga Sports Committee and East Ridge Parks and Recreation employees for analysis. Why are we relying on a study that was driven by CSC data?
Dr. Legg admits that the study had to be scaled down due to our 21,000 residents, and not 90,000 as his base study level. The entire thing should be in the “fiction” section of the library!
It is time to spread out the recreation opportunities across our city. Many citizens have expressed a desire for a new animal shelter and dog park. The city has explored and hired an engineering company to design a multi-use pavilion for East Ridge citizens to enjoy.
Without close supervision, the pavilion would be a hangout for teens who might be looking for trouble. It would welcome bad behavior and possible gang activity. The Hamilton County public park on Standifer Gap Road had to take out the basketball courts as they had become a place of gang activities and park destruction.
Why would East Ridge leaders go that route when the need for a new animal shelter has been looming for many years. The current shelter cannot be renovated because it is in the flood plan. The animal shelter employees could be more effective if they had more adequate kennels for the animals.
The city should bite the bullet and get this done while we still have money. After a pavilion is built, the city’s budget and debt would prohibit them from building a new animal shelter. Just say NO to the pavilion and YES to a new home for the animal shelter.
This city must learn to listen to the desires of its citizens and prioritize projects from a $13 million budget.
Should the citizens of East Ridge subsidize parks for the people of neighboring counties to play? I think not. Can anyone just go there and play on a field? No. So why should we pay for a park we can’t fully enjoy?
It is time that someone came in and transformed Camp Jordan into a self sustaining business.
At the June 14th council meeting, I am going to call for a NEW economic impact study to be performed to really see how Camp Jordan activities impact the city, taxes, and the budget. When people come to East Ridge to take advantage of the facilities at Camp Jordan are they really spending enough money to justify the city’s economic assistance to the park?
Let’s find that out before the city dumps another couple million bucks into Camp Jordan.
_ Laura Mathis