Frequently when I pass the Ooltewah interchange on I-75 and see how it is still booming, I remember a conversation I had with then-Hamilton County Commissioner Bill Bennett, who represented that area so well for many years.
We discussed the fact that there were no motels there and even a limited number of fast-food outlets. The problem was evident to us: lack of sewers. The county had decided to tie some potential high-growth areas onto the city's system, and we knew the Ooltewah interchange would boom if we got sewers to it. So we found the funding to run the line two miles. From day one, it took off like a rocket.
Becky Browder, formerly Hamilton County's real property manager, used to give me research reports on things like this. Maybe Mayor Coppinger can get whoever replaced her to do a comparison of the taxes now paid on all the properties there with the income before sewers were installed.
It would be a shocker, and one of those shockers that teach you something. What it would teach us is that sewers are one of the best investments government can make in the growth of a community. Sewers bring in so much revenue they make it possible to provide other infrastructure, like roads to homes and all that goes with community expansion.
My plea today is that we do a better job of identifying hot spots where sewers would make an area boom. This needs to be a permanent priority with city and county engineering staffs regularly meeting and evaluating our progress.
Why are sewers so vital? They are essential to growth everywhere but especially in Hamilton County. One-fourth of our land will not perk (drain) and is, therefore, unsuitable for septic lines. Two-thirds is "iffy," meaning it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't due to certain variables, mainly weather. Only one-third of our land perks well and is dependably developable with field lines.
Some large pieces of land cannot be developed without sewers. From personal observation, Valleybrook was bubbling with sewage before we got sewers there. I am not sure whet has happened at Port Serena, but it is Monongahela clay, as I recall, that will not perk in any season.
When you turn onto Hunter Road from Highway 58, a long ridge runs to the left, facing the lake. It has never been developed due to perking problems. I can see in my mind some of the most beautiful lake homes looking down on Chickamauga Lake if sewers were installed.
An earlier, very visionary city administration gave us one of our developmental "aces in the hole" when they dramatically increased the capacity of our sewage treatment plant. I do not know how much of its capacity is now being used, but it was only 30 percent at one time during my tenure in office.
I am a proud tree hugger, and the next time I go out to hug the trees, I think I will circle by Moccasin Bend and hug the treatment plant. Mentally, I will be hugging those city fathers and mothers who expanded the plant and gave us a great advantage over other areas.
Now, let us be completely aware of our good fortune and exploit it in every intelligent way.
Email Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.