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The fight about the future of Cameron Hill continued in public meetings, the press and the courts throughout the spring of 1962.

The legal complainants, Mrs. Sim Perry Long, Mrs. Walter M. Cline and Mrs. W.H. Wilson, filed an injunction after their earlier efforts to stop the project using an argument about Cameron Hill's history had failed. They focused instead on future financial loss, charging that the Chattanooga Housing Authority and city leadership had leased the urban renewal project to a group agreeing to only a 20% of gross sales return. As a part of the argument, they cited a similar agreement inked by the same group with Nashville, at a charge of 50% of the gross receipts. In their assessment, the faulty Chattanooga deal was "depriving the Housing Authority and the city of Chattanooga and its taxpayers of thousands of dollars in revenue each year." They reminded citizens that two "patriotic citizens [J.C. Anderson and R. Oberly] had deeded Boynton Park to the city on October 29, 1885, for public use forever." The summation of their argument centered on the nature of that land bequest to the city, observing it was the "duty of the CHA and City Commission to use the land for the general benefit of its citizens and not to destroy hallowed ground which has been enjoyed and used by its citizens since our pioneer forefathers came into this country."

As the arguments generated divisions among elected officials and the community, the opposition added to its campaign by alleging that a "failure to follow required legal procedure in the condemnation, tried in the court of Judge John T. Mahoney, left the CHA without clear title to the Boynton Park property." In their public statements, the coalition of civic and conservation groups, often represented by Mrs. Long as spokesperson, accused Hebert Banks, CHA secretary, of negotiating to destroy the park and level the hill, with a plan to build "garden-type apartments" on the historic site. The "dirt to be removed would be used in freeway development," under an agreement with Mayor Rudy Olgiati, which would allow him to move forward with his own urban renewal plans. The public statements implied an oral deal had been struck between the mayor and the housing authority. Olgiati refused to comment on the injunction and subsequent actions taken by the opposition leaders.

A letter to the Chattanooga Daily Times editor on April 19, 1962, echoed the preservationist argument. "It takes only an ill-planned, thoughtless program, disregarding conservation and preservation to destroy the character of a beautiful city."

As the two sides continued their fight over the historic hill, the Tennessee State Highway Department announced that it would be taking bids in late April 1962 on a freeway project in Chattanooga, from "12th Street to the Big Scramble." Cameron Hill was named in the plans and specifications as the "source of a million yards of fill dirt cutting down the hill from elevation 974 feet above mean sea level to 817 feet, a reduction of 157 feet." Most of the additional almost 3 million yards needed to lower Cameron Hill would then be used around "the foot of Lookout Mountain or in connection with Golden Gateway construction or railroad relocation."

The resolution was obvious. As one city official noted, " there is no turning back " An editorial in the Chattanooga Daily Times, in late April 1962, concluded, "There could not have been an ideal solution. Cameron Hill is full of beauty and memories as a major landmark, though not major in its historic significance compared to the many other historic treasures in the area it had become infested with the worst sort of slums and traffic impediments."

Cameron Hill's fate had been decided.

But, as friend and local architect Vance Travis reminds our history lovers, "someone had the foresight to save and warehouse the cannons and historical plaques" and ultimately, through the generosity of the late Ruth Holmberg, they were returned to a recreated Boynton Park. Where are these historic artifacts today? Once again, they have been relocated to a new iteration of Boynton Park. Visit the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee site, and you can view the cannons and tablets, safely perched on the vista above the beautiful Tennessee River.

Linda Moss Mines, Chattanooga-Hamilton County historian, is vice president for education at the Medal of Honor Heritage Center and regent, Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR.

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