Sunday, October 13, 2013
At the recent District 3 Dialogue hosted by Chattanooga City Councilman Ken Smith, Hamilton County Commissioner Marty Haynes and School Board representative Greg Martin, the officials fielded a variety of questions from the public involving everything from roads to schools.
Haynes said the three officials meet on a monthly basis to discuss ways they can work together to meet their goals for the Hixson community, which is in each of their jurisdictions.
“We want community involvement,” said Smith, as to why he and the other officials decided to host the Dialogue. “We will continue to do this if the community wants it. We have to be able to hear from you.”
One citizen asked what the city’s plans are regarding the paving of Northpoint Boulevard. Smith responded that Northpoint is a private road that is still owned by its original developer, and therefore the city has no plans to pave it.
“I’ve had a lot of people interested in getting this taken care of,” he noted.
He also said the city has no plans to pave Gann Store Road.
“There is no plan to pave anything,” said Smith. “Paving is something we have neglected for over 10 years in this city. It’s a big problem and one of my No. 1 issues. A number of roads in our district are in dire straits compared to Gann Store.”
In response to a question about a possible roundabout at Cassandra Smith and Hamill roads, he said a roundabout has been discussed for that location but has not been budgeted for yet.
One resident thanked Martin for voting against giving Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith a raise and asked him why he did so.
“I support our superintendent 100 percent,” said Martin. “I like that we have someone who’s come up through the ranks. I was not for giving a raise that amounted to 12-13 percent. I thought at that time that we should not have given Mr. Smith a raise without giving anything to the teachers.”
Martin also gave his opinion on Common Core standards.
“I think what makes more sense to me is letting the local school system have a little more autonomy with these types of things,” he said. “One of the problems with Common Core is you have all these standards, but the assessments are not there.”
A citizen asked if Ganns Middle Valley Elementary would be the next school to receive funding from the county to improve its physical building.
“It definitely needs to be the next school [to receive funding],” he said, adding that Hixson Middle School is the only school to have been built in District 3 since the city and county schools merged.
Haynes said the county has purchased 11-12 acres behind the current school property where the plan is to eventually open a new school, but did not give a timeline for that school’s opening. He added that the savings gleaned from the use of the geothermal systems planned for the new school could be applied in the classroom.
In response to a question about potential improvements to the Middle Valley Recreation Center, Haynes said the county is investing $2.5 million into the center.
“A walking track is something we’ll consider looking at,” he said.
One resident asked why the Hixson Recreation Center is offering free services that are already being offered for a charge by taxpaying citizens, such as art or dance classes.
“I don’t think our taxpayers should have to pay to compete with themselves,” said Smith.
He said the city has gotten rid of the more extensive programs and is now offering only introductory level classes. Local service providers are allowed to leave promotional materials about their classes at the center, he added.
“I don’t want our programs to stop entirely,” said Smith.