It's time for the next transformation in Chattanooga: North Shore West.
The unsightly, unseemly river scape of chemical storage tanks provide needed jobs here, but they also make the gateway to Moccasin Bend National Archeological District, the city's latest addition to the national military park, look like a drive to zombieville.
Already there is a planned extension to the Tennessee Riverwalk there, and a plan for a forthcoming Manufacturers Park at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Manufacturers Road. The Riverwalk funding will be from local, state, federal and private sources, but the funding for Manufacturers Park is still up in the air.
The state, while widening U.S. 27 through Stringers Ridge, is doing the land-shaping prep work, but the city of Chattanooga has not yet committed to the park-building part of the plan. The park will highlight Chattanooga's manufacturing history, feature environmentally friendly stormwater filtration, sculptures and interpretive exhibits. It also will work as a hub for the walking paths.
Then there's the planned streetscaping of Manufacturers Road itself. There will be trees -- lots of them -- where wall-to-wall concrete and sheet metal now gouge the view. The Chattanooga City Council was asked last week to OK a federal grant application for the $1.5 million streetscaping of Manufacturers and Hamm roads. The city will have to match 20 percent of the funding -- about $300,000.
But the trees will do more than hide giant chemical tanks. Like Main Terrain, the green infrastructure exercise and art park across from the entrance to the Chattanoogan Hotel, the Manufacturers Road streetscaping will serve the dual purpose of eliminating stormwater runoff by giving rainwater someplace to go and something to do besides run to sewer lines and cause overflow problems.
That and the eighth extension of the Riverwalk are no-brainer, good ideas. The newest planned segment of the Riverwalk would start at Manufacturers Road and run west toward the Moccasin Bend park, showing off 11 new overlooks along the way through a rejuvenated riverbank, restored wetland woods and a reclaimed creek leading into the Tennessee River.
It is time for all this to happen. Look at the difference the reinventing Chattanooga's riverfront has made in our city. Look at the difference revitalizing Southside is making here. Everywhere these efforts occur, new jobs, new families and new entrepreneurial opportunities follow.
This is Chattanooga's last big stretch of underdeveloped, ungreened riverfront. And it is the largest stretch left of evidence that Chattanooga once used the river as its sewer and the riverfront as its scrap-piled unsightly back yard.
It's time to change that. It's time to finish what we started with the Aquarium and the 21st Century Waterfront and the Tennessee Riverpark.
This plan is a wonderful idea, and it is an excellent use of our time and money -- public and private.