One of the interesting and fun things about being a candidate for office is the fact that people come to you and ask your opinion on things. Makes sense, I guess. I’m trying to be elected to the Legislative Branch of Knox County government. In the course of the campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to offer my opinion on issues of the day in a few places. I’ll share more about those when they come out. But, I find that if I’m writing an answer to some question that is asked of me, I have more to say about some things than the venue permits. So I’ve had to provide some shortened answers in those situations. But here at my campaign website, the space is unlimited. Therefore, I’m going to take some of these questions I’ve gotten, do some long form answers to them and put them on the ol’ campaign website. Enjoy.
Some of the questions I’ve received and responded don’t necessarily require a full post on the ol’ campaign website. They’re still important questions, of course, but either my response is straight forward and doesn’t need too much explanation. Or at the present time, there may not be much to say. So, here I’m going to throw in some of these questions for your interest and review.
1. I was asked about the Knoxville Center Mall and whether it should by bought by and used for County government. As you probably know, the Knoxville Center Mall is scheduled to close January 31, 2020. The Knox County Commission has discussed options of what to do with the property, including leaving it to the private sector to deal with and having Knox County purchase the property outright and moving County government offices to the location, after suitable renovation. The Commission eventually agreed to fund a study of the highest and best use of the area and how the government can assist in its redevelopment.
I agree with the decision of the Commission to fund a study. Moving County government offices farther east would adversely affect the ability of the residents in the western part of the County to access their County government. In addition, a proposal to purchase and renovate the property is very expensive and not an effective use of taxpayer dollars. At the same time, the County government might be able to play an effective part in helping make sure that the Knoxville Center Mall property becomes a vibrant commercial center for East Knoxville. I think the study that the Commission approved is an effective use of taxpayer money to that end and will pay off exponentially in the long run.
2. I have been asked about the proposed plan to revamp Chilhowee Park. I have reviewed the strategic study of possible future uses of Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center that was released last Fall. I think it’s a fantastic blueprint for something that could be a great attraction for Knoxville, Knox County, and all of East Tennessee. I disagree with the critics who call this a pipe dream. This plan, or something like this, is what Knoxville should aspire to.
However, there are unanswered questions. Flooding in that area is a big problem and should be addressed before any final decisions are made. In addition, the plan would require the Tennessee Valley Fair move to another, as yet to be determined location. If the City Council decides to go ahead with this project or one like this, I see potential for (and would support) County Commission involvement in the way of a City/County partnership to find a way to keep the Tennessee Valley Fair in Knox County.
3. I have also been asked for my thoughts on Historic Zoned neighborhoods. I know there is an ongoing concern about historic overlay in the Oakwood-Lincoln Park neighborhood. I don’t believe there are any neighborhoods in District 4 which are under consideration for Historic or Neighborhood Conservation zoning overlay. However, I believe that any decision about imposing such an overlay on a neighborhood should be done in a way that takes into account the concerns that residents would be driven out by rising property values or expensive home repairs.