Viewpoint: Crossville council putting city in bad light

So, how about the city of Crossville?

Whether it’s the council’s infinite indecisiveness over ongoing downtown revitalization efforts, its recent limboing over a northwest connector road development project that could result in Cookeville’s equivalent to Restaurant Row, or bickering over failed grand jury indictments over fraud allegations, things sure aren’t looking up in the eastern UC. And since I slammed Sparta for bickering back in 2011 – when that city’s board of aldermen and chamber failed to get along – I felt it only fair to air some thoughts on what’s happening in Cumberland County as of late.

Disclaimer: I have never lived in the city of Crossville or covered the local political scene like I have in Cookeville, so my only insight comes from local media reports. But that’s all I need. Why? Because what I read is the same exact thing potential customers of the city – defined here as any new residents, new businesses and/or new industry – read as well. They don’t care about who’s who, who’s family scorned who’s in the past, who you took to your high school prom.

Companies do care that a community can provide a good working environment, preferably drama free – and Crossville is so not that right now.

The UCBJ has followed the downtown revitalization project off and on for the past several months – and in that time, the project, which would mean major stormwater, sewer, sidewalk and aesthetic improvements for Main Street, seems to have been “off” more times than “on.” The most recent vote, to scale it back drastically, failed until a special called meeting where the measure actually passed. Only it may not be a valid motion. We’ll wait on MTAS to decide. Confused? Imagine how a merchant once looking into a downtown space might feel…

When it comes to the northwest connector, Crossville officials are willing to walk away from a hefty 80-percent match from TDOT because they can’t say for certain it’s worth the expenditure to fully connect Genesis Road and Highway 70 West.

The status of this effort also seems to change with the wind. I bet the Olive Gardens, O’Charley’s and Cheddars’ of the world are drooling all over this opportunity…

But it’s the recent grand jury talk that has me most worried for the city – and its citizens. One councilman in particular isn’t satisfied that the investigation he’s pushed into potential real estate transactions gone awry essentially returned a “no bill” from jurors. It looks like he will continue to press the issue.

I’m not saying that these things shouldn’t be brought to light. I’m not insinuating that discussions take place behind closed doors, either. Far from it.

But if waters are going to be stirred to hurricane proportions, I just think it’s best to be sure the end justifies the means, or something along those lines. Or to just.make.up.your.mind. Being able to say, “I told you so,” sometimes isn’t worth the ultimate price paid to a city.

Liz Engel Clark is the editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. She can be reached at

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