Toward that end, I believe we need to build around our strengths to provide for reducing our weaknesses. Oak Ridge’s Heritage buildings and its history are culturally and historically interesting to a wide range of visitors. The lake, waterfront, greenbelts, walking and riding paths, golf courses, ball fields, game courts, and more are a terrific foundation as a recreation destination.
The Heritage neighborhoods, from the original alphabet houses to the breathtakingly beautiful Emory Heights and far West Outer Drive, have been loved and maintained and improved into a wealth of attractive homes. Over 5000 approved new plats offer a variety of locations and lifestyles for new home customers.
Oak Ridge boasts amenities that few towns our size can. By marketing those assets we stand a better chance of continuing them: symphony orchestras, community band, home-grown small bands who play bluegrass to bebop to blues; dance troupes, playhouse, museums; Tai Chi and Tai Kwan Do, yoga and pilates classes. We have the best assets of large cities with the comfort and warmth of small towns.
We need to amend our sign ordinances to allow retail districts visibility on the Turnpike and Illinois. The over 40 shops and services at Grove Center deserve notice. The 20 plus businesses at Jackson Square need our help. Jefferson District is growing. Four Oaks merchants need help through the construction year. We need to rethink our retail strategy to support the businesses we have and to attract specifically desired new businesses. We need to get over the myth of Target.
As a city in the midst of the methamphetamine plague, we need to combine police expertise, Neighborhood Watch vigilance, and cooperation from outside agencies to stem this tide. We need to upgrade our sidewalks and pick up the litter. We need to back our code officers and city attorney to enforce housing codes to stop the spread of slums that devalue their neighbor’s homes. We will have to pay for legal fights to stop negligent landlords. But we can do these things. We live in one of the most beautiful towns in the country. Most of us chose to be here. We are responsible for keeping it a place we choose and making it better. Finally, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as a “government town” and begin to think of ourselves as Oak Ridge, a city with a large federal tenant with whom we are on good terms.
For more bragging about me or to get in touch, Oak Ridgers are invited to visit www.annegarciagarland.com or call me at 482-3294. If you approve, I would be grateful for your vote.