Opinion : The Voice of a Concerned Citizen
I am speaking on the systematic way we gave away the community. This is not an overnight deal. Everything from the I-40 Smart Fix, which made the East accessible by Summit Hill and Cherry St. In doing, businesses moved and didn’t come back. Ironically, the Gun Zone moniker was attracted and never left.
Every politician that claimed to represent us, since Danny Mayfield, was Pinocchio and their financiers Japeto. The coup was the expansion on Recode Knoxville. Not one fought for the community. The clergy and churches are guilty too. They preached the doctrine of pie in the sky and got hell on earth. They lacked the vision and practical sense to encourage sound biblical financial teaching.
Next to CEC, is Community Place designed and built to strengthen the community. To my knowledge, no other religious institutions have though of or implemented a bold and successful plan to begin the wealth building process. This community is poor. The 42% poverty level is not shocking. There has not been a single business to move into the community that paid a living wage. None. However again, they moved out, most notably Levis on Cherry Street.
The infrastructure non used has crumbled, the potential of the people untapped. And not a single politician solicited outside of this area for new businesses. As Charles DeBro from KCDC stated in a Metro Pulse interview over 10 years ago, their plan was to disburse the criminal element in housing projects, most notably my childhood home Walter P Taylor Homes.
They finally did but much like the ‘Ville’, many people took the funky $2,000 and left and didn’t even try to obtain the knowledge required to preserve or get back the value, which is the East. The malaise and ignorance was astonishing. In 1987, we were living the apex of the community after the first gentrification wave to build the coliseum.
Of the 179 business that were there only 1, Jarnigan and Sons, survived, then the crack game hit hard! It created junkies and prisoners and a whole generation of kids that was essentially left without guides, tools and the skills necessary to get from point A to B. Nothing in the past 20-30 years is exclusive, everything is a plan. It was easy for them. From a practical standpoint, there was no place to expand downtown but East. UT to the West, the River to the South, old North Knoxville and their business and residence knew the game and hunkered down.
Not us. We went along, to get along. And the place I knew is and will be gone. I apologize for this appearing incoherent and no indentation but I’m not by my notes. But the failed grocery store, the removal of any drug store, the two city council candidates (one is who making a killing off real estate at her office on Magnolia to the other that is a slum lord front for a pill mill operation in South FL). The new condos, yards from Austin Homes that have the tax money not allocated for Green but Sequoyah. I could continue. It’s a dirty game and everybody is guilty of playing, by omission and commission.
Sydney Clinkscales is a resident and proud native of East Knoxville. He attended Austin East High School and Knoxville College.