The East Ridge City Council recently approved unanimously a resolution to request removal of use restrictions on five acres of land within Camp Jordan Park that are currently protected as part of a Federal Land and Water Conservation program dating back to the 1970s. The Council’s decision was approved in light of the recent announcement that the professional soccer club Chattanooga Red Wolves seeks to enter into a partnership arrangement with the City for the construction of a first-class soccer training facility to be used by the team and made available for the Park’s use in connection with its youth activities to benefit the community.
Now, other current and former elected officials associated with the City of East Ridge are recognizing the valuable opportunity for the City and are coming out in full support for the project.
“As an East Ridge native, I have been searching and hoping for an opportunity like this to be presented to East Ridge and finally it has arrived,” says lifetime resident of East Ridge and District 8 Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd. “I think the leadership of East Ridge is well aware of the benefits to the community that a facility like this presents and it could not come at a better time when the City is experiencing significant economic growth and soccer is the fastest growing American sport. Also, there is no other complex like this anywhere in the region and the facility will have the ability to host various events for the community.”
In August of last year, it was announced by the United Soccer League that the Chattanooga area would be granted an expansion team in the newly created USL League One division for 2019. The USL League One is a sanctioned professional soccer league of the United Soccer Federation which is the official governing body of the sport of soccer in the United States for amateur and professional soccer. Since that time, the Red Wolves have been searching for a location to construct a first-class soccer complex for the team’s training regimen and to partner with local and regional soccer associations to generate increased participation in youth physical activity. It looks like the Red Wolves have found the location.
“The Red Wolves have proposed to fund the construction of a first-class soccer training complex to the tune of about $1.2 million which will provide a game changing experience for the youth of this community that previously has not existed,” says former East Ridge mayor Vince Dean, now the criminal court clerk for Hamilton County. “Certainly, how could you not be for a partnership and development like this that rarely, if ever, is available to smaller cities and which will benefit the local area at little to no cost to the tax payers.”
At an East Ridge City Council meeting this month, the Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing Mayor Brian Williams to take the necessary actions with the National Parks Services and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conversation to facilitate a conversion of 5 acres of land within Camp Jordan Complex which are subject to certain restrictions as a result of FLWC grant funds received in the 1970s at the time the City acquired the now approximate 275 acres of land for the construction of Camp Jordan Park. If approved, the conversion will lift the FLWC restrictions on the five acres and allow the City to lease the five acres to the Red Wolves club to construct the soccer facility in coordination with the City. As part of the deliberations, the Council acknowledged that Camp Jordan Park has a rich history of serving as a catalyst to encouraging physical activity and healthy lifestyles as well as public gatherings. Additionally, the Council concluded, the soccer complex would increase tourism as part of the City’s Border Region District and accompany the construction and development of other projects within the District that are already positively impacting the City financially and economically.
“It thrills me that a professional sports team has not only come to the region but that it wants to establish roots in East Ridge by infusing its own money to the improvement of a public park that will benefit citizens of the City, especially our children,” stated former East Ridge City Councilman and District 30 State Representative Marc Gravitt, now the Register of Deeds for Hamilton County. “This is truly a winwin situation for everyone and I think the East Ridge administration and Council deserves credit for having a vision to improve the lifestyle of the community through this partnership while being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”
In addition to funding the cost for the new improvements to Camp Jordan, the Red Wolves also announced the club would donate the $10,000 conversion fee to the City that is required by the National Parks Services to trigger the conversion process. “The generosity that the Red Wolves have extended to East Ridge is unparallel in today’s world and it is wonderful other local elected officials support this project,” stated current Vice-Mayor and District 30 State Representative Esther Helton. “The City has an incredibly rich financial opportunity to enhance the lives of its citizens through improvements to Camp Jordan Park which has been an iconic establishment in East Ridge for over 40 years. This is long overdue and congratulations to East Ridge.”