Cleveland is losing it.
I was just reading a quote from Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, of how pleased he was that our community was attracting new industry while other cities were in decline. He said he thought it was Cleveland's small town atmosphere and low taxes that gave us the edge. Apparently he was right because low taxes, business friendly government and of course, God's blessing of natural beauty attracted this writer to relocate here from up north. That was seventeen years ago. The problem is, and Rowland may be interested to know, it has been a continual fight to keep it that way.
Let me explain. Rowland sees himself as a community leader. A father of Cleveland's future, champion of what is good about our community. And it would be fair to say he has worked tirelessly to promote its reputation. As mayors go, Rowland is not a bad one, but he has one overriding flaw that is counter productive to the small town atmosphere he is so proud of. He wants to transform Cleveland into a metropolitan city. He wants to swallow up Bradley County and grow Cleveland to have all the amenities and public programs associated with a large city. He reasons that when it has grown large, it will retain the small town atmosphere. Unfortunately, reality doesn't work that way. Unless a drastic adjustment in attitude takes place, at the next bump in the economy, Cleveland may not be so fortunate because it will not retain the attributes it now has.
In the clamor to expand, Cleveland wants to annex larger areas of the county, mainly to gain access to more tax dollars with which to expand government and social services. The citizens affected by the expansion visualize the dangers to their quality of life, with increased crime, overcrowded schools and distant non-responsive government. To ignore its citizens is in itself a sign of decline in small town atmosphere.
There has been talk of installing speed cameras along Cleveland's streets and to change existing red light cameras to also check speed. Hardly conducive to the small town atmosphere.
A new airport is not wanted by the taxpayers. Again, it is mainly a quality of life issue. It increases quality for a few, decreases it for everyone else. More small town atmosphere down the slippery slope.
Additions and improvements to this community do not necessarily have to be negative. It would be fair to say the problem facing Bradley County presently is that a few people with a financial interest in growth are calling all the shots with little or no real input coming from the people affected most. Public hearings are held according to law, but the decisions and plans are already cemented and stacked against the community. Not all our leaders are working for the betterment of the community. Many have a vested interest reeking of conflict. At present, Bradley County is under attack by property speculators and developers. These are the people exploiting expansion to make money. These are the people ruining Cleveland and Bradley County. Do we want this to happen?
That's what I think. What do you think?