City’s purchase of Summers-Taylor property could lead to economic development investment

Published 4:17 pm Friday, November 26, 2021

To the Editor:
As I read about the city’s plans to purchase the Summers-Taylor property for the purpose of expanding the water department/garage or to house a part of the city’s utility department, I was reminded of the economic development issues that were dealt with a few years ago in relation to what Carter County Tomorrow was, or was not doing. During those conversations I remember someone describing economic development as a journey and not a destination.
Recently, Sue and I were over at the Johnson City Mall looking for the new place called “Eggs Up.” We looked at the mall directory which is placed at the entrance to the mall to see if we could locate it. The first thing we saw on the directory was the words “you are here” and then gave us direction from where we were to the place where we wanted to go. I thought wow this is great. Now I know how to find the place I want to go.
Now, concerning Carter County and economic development. We “are” where we “were” and “here we are.” If economic development is a journey and not a destination then the city officials are on target to be successful in their endeavor to purchase this property for their stated reason.
Let me remind us of the once glorified West End Development Project boasting that the TIF financing would solve any and all problems with developing the west end of the city. So far, they have been successful in relocating Big Lots, adding three fast food entities, a hair salon, some apartments down on the banks of the river which will stall or forever hinder tourist development on the banks of that beautiful river.
“Hindsight” now reminds us of a concept called “foresight” which could be defined as the destination for economic development in this area.
I sincerely hope the citizens will encourage our elected officials to use some “foresight” concerning this property that has the potential for high end development.
With the relocation or improvement of West Elk Avenue in that area that vacant property which could include both sides of the trail could be marketed as a site for mixed use development, retail shops, think “Pinnacle,” think an outlet mall such as the mall in Asheville, N.C.
If the city feels they need more property it would make more sense to pursue additional property in that area of the city in order to have a confined utility instead of putting it on the other end of the city and destroying the possibilities connected with this property.
Today it’s called “foresight.” Five or ten years in the future it’s called “hindsight.”
I challenge those in charge to “think about that.”

Robert Carroll
Elizabethton