What do you as residents of East Ridge want?
Most of us can agree that we want this intangible thing called “quality of life.” What the heck does “quality of life” mean? Doesn’t it mean something that enriches your experience through this world? Doesn’t it mean something that brings you contentment and makes your world a better place in which to … I don’t know, thrive, for lack of a better word?
What can your city government do to improve your quality of life? Here’s a simple one … pick up the trash that accumulates all across this city. Plastic cups, paper, discarded crap and all manner of detritius litters the roads and rights-of-way of East Ridge. Periodically, people complain to the point that gets the administration’s attention and some poor city employees go out and gather it up. Then it all starts over again.
How about green space? East Ridge is eight-square miles where 21,000 residents are packed together. Fact: It’s the most densely populated city in Tennessee.
Some might say that residents have the 250 acres that is Camp Jordan Park. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but city leaders are intent on turning what was once a park into a super-duper sports complex. Sure, there are sports fields, but by and large you can’t use them unless you’re part of a sports league. And, there are more and more paved spaces out there … parking lots, roads, walking tracks, concession stands, an amphitheater, an arena, and a couple of pavilions.
And there are plans to build it out even more by bringing in the Redwolves soccer club’s practice facility.
In terms of quality of life, many may agree that the city could begin to acquire small pieces of property throughout the city, perhaps where condemned houses were razed. Don’t develop those lots, use them for little “pocket parks.” Nothing elaborate … a couple benches, maybe a planter.
Wouldn’t that be nice for the young couple who moved in down the street to have a place to walk to with the baby stroller and dog and maybe, just maybe meet the neighbors?
Take baby steps with this stuff. It doesn’t have to be done in some grand-slam fashion, you know, the way the city approaches most things and then becomes paralyzed over making decisions because the plan is so elaborate.
While the city is at it, would a sidewalk on some of our busier streets be too much to ask? The young mom with the child would feel a lot better if she didn’t have to dodge traffic on the way to the bench in the pocket park.
This, dear reader, is a “quality of life” issue that your city could address.
Here’s another one. What about that decaying hulk behind City Hall and the Fire and Police Services Center that was once McBrien School? Thousands of residents in this city have a real and visceral connection with the building and surrounding property. Aside from the school, it was where “town hall ball” happened. It was where many of us of a certain age had the dream of many little leaguers aspiring to the Big Leagues. It’s where we played tennis under the lights and kept an eye on the softball games happening right next door.
McBrien has been sitting there for a decade, with city fathers refusing to make any decision about what to do with this building and property.
Here’s an idea … let the city renovate it and turn it into a cultural center. There’s a huge cafeteria that could be used for a restaurant incubator, kind of like what Proof is doing in Chattanooga. The building is so large that it could house numerous art studios, boutiques, galleries. It has an auditorium in which musicians could perform. Oh, and right next door is an open field, you know, green space! Imagine going into the cafeteria and getting some Nashville Hot Chicken in a basket. Walk outside with it and plop down on the “village green” and enjoy.
If I’m not mistaken, Signal Mountain has done something like that with an old building in their town and by all accounts the Mountain Arts Center has worked. Ooltewah has something kind of like it at what is Cambridge Square.
Come on people, this is your city. I’m sure you have a vision for a better quality of life for you and your family in East Ridge. Speak up! Call your elected officials and urge them to actually take some action that improves life here for its residents.
Contrary to what happens in City Council meetings, there’s much more for our elected officials to do other than rubber stamp incentives for new businesses and over-regulate anticipated package store liquor sales.
These are dark days with people having to deal with a pandemic and all. Hopefully, one day in the not-to-distant future we will emerge. And, man alive, wouldn’t it be something if we could all have a new place in the center of our city, a place with a storied past, come back to life with a bright new future?
Let that sink in.