Friday December 7, 2012
From the Desk of the President (of the AMBC),
Re: James White Parkway Public Meeting and beyond
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that officials from the Tennessee Department of Transportation would have said the words “Appalachian Mountain Bike Club” so many times. What we have created in the past several years is truly an effort and an accomplishment unrivaled by any other in our region, perhaps the nation. Last night was an amazing representation by our group, and it is very important to point out that it was not a bunch of cyclists that showed up to fight for trails. It was tax paying, job holding, voting citizens that have invested time, money, blood, sweat and tears into our city, not just a trail system. The fact that you happen to ride a bicycle in the woods at times is secondary to the fact that you have stood up for what in the immediate and long term is right for your city. Everyone should be commended.
You all could not have done a better job speaking last night. I had much debate whether or not to speak and to be quite honest am still questioning my decision. After looking at the list of speakers that signed up, I ultimately came to the conclusion that there could not have been a more diverse, sincere and smart group of people speaking to convey our message, not as members of a special interest group, but as a group of special people representing the interests of many groups.
For the history books, it is important to give a couple of highlights of the evening:
Donna Jo Sutter, the common sense emotion that came across in your tone and message rang the bell of reason. Benji Darnell made very relevant statements regarding the retention rates of UT Grads. Scott Smith did an excellent job with the outdoor economy report and employee count. Only Kevin Zirkle could successfully get away with using the term “pornographic” while name dropping Bill Haslam, and still come out smelling like a rose. Tina Rosling delivered a calm and matter of fact approach to the simple facts of access to outdoor recreation, the long term health effects and who pays for it. I know you were fired up, but it didn’t show. Mr. Matt Morris did a wonderful job of putting Knoxville on the socio-economic map somewhere between Eugene, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia and explained why living in Knoxville is preferable. He received extra clapping for brevity. Conrad Plaut with a “take no prisoners” approach to mathematics, if multiplication signs were throwing stars and the division sign was a samurai sword, you would be one hell of a ninja. Heather Middlebrooks, a teacher; Philippe Hanset, a foreigner; Chris Martin, an old guy in a brown jacket… We are, as a good friend likes to tell me, a “Cross Section of America” and our message was heard LOUD AND CLEAR!
I would also like to thank Carol Evans, Paul James and Will Skelton for perhaps a more refined look at the scenario, where we were 30 years ago, where we are today and where we are headed. And of course, Mayor Rogero, Mayor Burchett (who was home recovering from pneumonia), and Vice Mayor Pavlis. They will all be up for re-election and had no incentive to divert from the status quo and stick their necks out other than the fact that they know bigger and better things are to come with Knoxville and the Urban Wilderness. They deserve our support and our thanks.
Thank you all again so much for portraying a true representation of our organization. We have what I have been told is the BEST IMBA chapter in the entire country. As you know things have just begun. We have just scraped the surface on the outdoor recreation opportunities. More is in store for the Urban Wilderness. In the next few years, we can expect to see major improvements in terms of neighborhoods and housing, expanding passive park opportunities and pedestrian friendly access to the river. These things that are long overdue for our city and mostly in part due to the efforts of an administration that completely sees the value in a vibrant, healthy community, non-profit organizations that work tirelessly to support them and hard-working boots on the ground groups like the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club that are willing to do much of the heavy lifting. Once again, thank you all for coming out and defending what we have worked so hard to accomplish.
We are winning….Workday next Weekend Meads Quarry!