Cooper: A local federal bureaucracy irony

Cooper: A local federal bureaucracy irony

April 11th, 2017 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

Michael Wurzel, executive director of Friends of Moccasin Bend, talks about how a sewer treatment facility on the south side of the Tennessee River would affect the future national park on the north side.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

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It's not really funny, but we have to chuckle a little when one federal bureaucracy meets another.

In Chattanooga, that is likely to happen when the glacially developing national park land on Moccasin Bend may have a scenic view of a sewer storage facility directly across the Tennessee River from it because of a federal mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency.

In time, the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District is to have a visitors center on Hamm Road with a view of the river, and the park is to extend along the river in spots, including where local law enforcement units currently have their shooting range. An expansion of the Tennessee Riverwalk also is expected to go along the river's edge.

But the city, to help fulfill a consent decree it signed, has preliminary plans for a storage facility on the south side of the river that includes a new pumping station, sewer storage tanks, a diversion structure to direct water, and site upgrades for additional storage.

And in the irony of ironies, one of the complaints the consent decree covers is overflow from sewer lines surrounding and running through the Hamm Road properties.

The group Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park is concerned, and who wouldn't be? No one wants to put up with smelly, across-the-river neighbors.

Fortunately, each side understands what the other is up against, and both sides believe there might be compromises. One, moving the storage tanks underground, is thought to be too pricey. But the tanks are set to go at the back of the property, and paint that blends in with the surroundings and tasteful plantings could go a long way to hiding some of the other facility accoutrements.

We know a future national park will be a boon to the area, but we can't escape our past sewage sins, either. We hope one day they can coexist tastefully.

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