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Leaders wonder, 'What's wrong with Kingsport, Tenn.?'

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The Kingsport Times-News has had several editorial columns and letters to the editor dealing with what is wrong with Kingsport, Tenn., and how to fix it. The latest one published on Thursday was entitled, "City leaders need to accept responsibility for their actions: I'll go first." This article was written by a Kingsport businessman and former member of the Board of Mayor and Alderman, Dave Clark. Clark surmised that spending too much and collecting too little has led to the current budget difficulties that Kingsport is experiencing.

Looking back on redevelopment in Kingsport, with which he was involved, Clark sees that mistakes were made. In making too many deals to lure retailers to the city, Kingsport "gave away" a large part of its revenue. Clark most likely knows what he is talking about, but the problem also has a silver lining. Kingsport leads the Tri-Cities in retail sales. As a newcomer to Kingsport, this writer was pleased to discover the wide range of shopping and dining opportunities available here.

Unlike other neighboring cities, Kingsport is not becoming a predominantly service-oriented economy. The presence of industries and factories that actually produce a tangible product gives the city a vitality that has been severely eroded in Bristol and Johnson City, as well as many other cities around the country. People complain a lot about the smell in Kingsport, but it is important to remember that that smell is industry and real, decent-paying jobs; we have just grown unaccustomed to cities with factories in them.

Has the smell encouraged people to live outside the area where they work? Most assuredly it has, and the powers that be in Kingsport have been calling on people to live in the city where they work. The ability to annex is almost non-existent, and the real estate tax base is not what it could or should be. There are beautiful developments around the area, but most of them are in the county. Some of these developments have turned into small towns on their own with even more to offer Kingsport area residents. Colonial Heights, Bloomingdale, Lynn Garden, and Indian Springs are just a few of these little hamlets scattered outside the border of the city. The residents still eat, work, buy, and participate in the Kingsport community.

Kingsport has invested a great deal of effort and funds in creating a green belt throughout the city with bicycle trails and beautiful park settings that rival anywhere. You can take a virtual tour on The Kingsport Greenbelt.com. For a city of this size, there are so many opportunities to enjoy nature in the area.

Traffic is just crazy in Kingsport. Cars are always going at a breakneck speed, and the average speed limits are 10-15 mph higher than Bristol or Johnson City. Another silver lining, however, is that traffic rarely congests and backs up, even at getting off time. The roads are set up to allow you to pop from one side of the city to another. John B. Dennis is a wonderful thing!

Kingsport offers a rich diversity and variety to those who live in the areas around the city. It is a bit different than the other cities, and that’s a good thing. Kingsport leaders should look again at the city's many amenities through the eyes of new residents. This new resident is thrilled with all the Model City has to offer.

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