Monday, June 22, 2009

About Time the Media Spotlighted the Economic Potential of the Bells Bend Alternative to May Town Center

According to the Tennessean, May Town Center opponents are not intolerant do-nothings courting economic and development "disaster":
An alternative vision of the area where the controversial May Town Center is proposed could generate more than $23 million a year in economic activity from farming, tourism and recreational uses, economists hired by a group of residents write in a new report ....

As an alternative, they envision preserving 4,000 acres of farmland and establishing the corridor to Beaman Park as a cultural and historical center, a recreational hub and/or a local attraction. Possible uses include a conference/retreat center and musical performances.

"We're trying to respond to the claim that this giant development is needed for economic benefit, and if we don't do this, it's a big zero out there," Scottsboro resident and May Town Center opponent Barry Sulkin said. "It's not a zero. And it doesn't cost much to try."
Opponents are not the slick marketers that Tony Giarratana's white-collar shock troops are on the future of Bells Bend. They have less money and less pull in the government and with the media, and so their proposal is oftened drowned out. It is no less real.


  1. "Opponents are not the slick marketers that Tony Giarratana's white-collar shock troops are on the future of Bells Bend."

    When I attended the Planning Commission hearing in May, I took exception to the very framing of the issue. May Town advocates sat on one side of the room labeled 'proponents,' Bells Bend preservation advocates sat on the other side under a sign that read "opponents."

    I object to the framing. The Bells Bend community are not just "opponents." They are also FOR something that is finally being given voice. They are FOR:

    -a green corridor from Beaman to Bells Bend;

    -a vibrant downtown where it belongs: DOWNtown;

    -community planning by the community, NOT by zoning change fiat orchestrated by individual land owners;

    -the existing Bordeaux-Whites Creek community plan;

    -studies and planning BEFORE reaching a verdict;

    At the next hearing, I want to see Tony Giaratanna's side of the room labeled 'opponents,' because those are all the things that he, the May family, and all those people in the paid-for green t-shirts are against.

  2. Paul,
    I too took umbrage at the pre-framing of the debate in this way. In fact, I think it is counter-productive that people were presumed to be on opposite sides of some invisible ideological divide, and then hence should sit on opposite sides of the room. Why? So we don't throw punches? (really?) Or so that the Commission can easily discount the words of someone from "one side" or "the other"?

    I've lived in a number of places around the country and have never seen this done anywhere else. Everywhere I've been to meetings it's always "public seating" where people sit where they like.

    Maybe it would be possible to actually reach a compromise if it weren't assumed and enforced that They are different from Us.

    Surely we can do better. Maybe we should just bring our own signs...