By Commissioner L.T. JENKINS
As I have expressed earlier I am not for a Bible Park in Lebanon, Tennessee simply because I feel the public is being MISLED and my concerns for the high amount of traffic. As a member of the Wilson County Court (Commission), I am sometimes privy to information that the public never sees, although I think they have every right to it, so here is the latest:
1. When the Bible Park was first promoted I was at the meeting and they were bragging on a proposed huge attendance thus bringing money into Lebanon. But there is more to it than money FOR THE BIBLE PARK. They estimated 5,800 additional cars per day would be going into the park. Being the simple country boy I was raised up to be and no great whiz at math, I still did my own calculations. I could not imagine trying to get to Walmart, Gondola, Sunset Restaurant, Shoneys, Pizza Hut, Waffle House or O’Charleys with that many cars in front of me or for that matter caught in the middle of them. I referred to the high traffic of Pigeon Forge where Dollywood is located as a comparison in my mind.
2. At the next meeting, I asked Mayor Fox, how the streets would handle such traffic and his answer was “Oh, we’ll put a turn lane on Sparta Pike, there is not much we can do to 231 as it already has five lanes.” So to myself I said,”I haven’t been fair by assuming all 5800 cars would be on South Cumberland/231 so I split the number by half, thus giving Sparta Pike 2,900 cars and South Cumberland 2,900 cars! You figure how your own traffic problems on this.
3. I asked Mayor Fox if the current sewer system could handle the addition of the Bible Park, for as a county commissioner I already had knowledge that the sewer had already been extended to the race track out Hwy.840 and was proposed to perhaps cover new industries in the Couchville Pike area. The answer that Don gave me was “Our sewer plant is big enough to handle Lebanon once again.” This made me wonder then why a sewer plant that could handle two Lebanon’s had to smell so bad every time I passed it on Hartmann Drive?
4. Next came the mention that a road would be built parallel to the interstate and running from 231 over to Cainsville Road or maybe even to Sparta Pike. The promoters of the Park, including the mayor himself, kept assuring us there would be no cost to the citizens of Lebanon (I live out side the city for the record) but now, the truth:
5. I have a copy of a letter sent to the Mayor and copies sent to we commissioners from none other than Gerald F. Nicely, the Commissioner of Transportation and I quote:
a. “Turn lanes and traffic signals on state highways. The department generally works WITH local governments TO FUND improvements to state highways where traffic intersecting local roads is causing congestion.” (Captalization is mine).
b. “Local Interstate Connector (LIC) funding . Under this program, qualifying projects can be FUNDED AT A 50/50 COST SHARE WITH THE LOCAL AGENCY(That’s you the taxpayer) subject to a $2 million maximum TDOT contribution.”
c. State Industrial Access (SIA) program funding. Under this program, qualifying projects can be funded where INDUSTRIAL EXPANSION is occurring. The MAXIMUM CONTRIBUTION under this program is for two 12’ lanes and 4’ shoulders or a dollar equivalent.(I don’t believe the park would be “industrial”otherwise what is it producing?)
d. “Once the decision is made regarding the proposed park, a formal request from the City will need to be submitted to the Department.”
So there you have it. Admission is estimated to run $35-45 per head and you can also HIRE a guide inside. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is already watching to make sure no government money is used to fund religion. (Our government requires a separation of church and state) and since according to the Mayor, this will not be a religious park, but more based on biblical history, I am wondering just how many Shintus, Buddhists, Siks, or other non Christians will be attending solely to learn history of course? Now should you not be able to afford taking a family of four or five to the proposed Bible Park, you can still learn the unadulterated version of biblical history by reading your Bible to your kids. My mom used to do it and it works!
Editor’s Note: L.T. Jenkins represents District 19 on the Wilson County Commission. He resides in Lebanon.