Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

They use to call it Bentleys

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This is what you contend with if you launch a boat at Misty Cove.

Remember when the boat ramp at Misty Cove was a going concern? It's at the end of Ramsey Road . . . or whatever that road is now called.

You know, just past where Chuck Keel's mother had the old trailer house. Not only was the ramp in good shape, Hank Bentley had a dock and even a sorta restaurant there. He bought it from J.R. Ramsey long time ago. Great place for breakfast.

It is a far cry from that now.

The ramp parking area and the road leading to it are in deplorable condition. There are potholes big enough to bury a midsize car and the parking area is rough as a cob -- nothing a couple loads of crusher run and some blade work wouldn't fix.

It is so bad, residents of the area have started circulating a petition to get it repaired and cleaned up. But where do they send the petition? I can understand the confusion, cause the road, as long as it has houses on each side, it perfectly fine.

Obviously, it is being maintained. It is only the last 200 yards or so that is a disaster. Only the actual footage leading to the ramp goes untouched. I measured it. It is exactly 176 yards - 528 feet. But what a mess that one tenth of a mile is. The ramp itself and the dock are in pretty good shape. It is the road and parking area that need urgent attention before the spring onslaught.

So just who is in charge of maintaining that area? That would seem like a simple question, easy to get answered. Surely just a phone call or two should be sufficient. I did not anticipate much trouble in speaking with someone who could give me a concrete or even an asphalt answer.


Since it is a county road, I called County Mayor, Randall Hutto. He was on a conference call so I left my name and number. He knows me and I figured he would call as soon as he had a spare minute.

Then, I called the public affairs office of the Corps of Engineers. The fast talking young man, once he found out I was a newspaper dude, writing a column, promised someone would call me or email me post haste. And they did.

So the way Charley from the C of E explained it, this was no simple problem.

See, the road leading to the ramp is the responsibility of Wilson County, he said. Okay, I can see that. It would be a tremendous improvement just to get that fixed. How much can it cost to fill some potholes? But then, why are they not maintaining it when they do the rest of the road? We are only talking about another 176 yards. Turns out, maybe that is not part of the county road.

Now the parking area, so Charley explained, is the responsibility of the TWRA. So I called their headquarters. Nice lady. Had no idea who I needed to talk with but gave me a number to call. And I did. Nice lady. Had no idea who I needed to talk with so I called my friend, Doug Markham, the go-to guy for information and education, both of which I needed.

Great recording on his machine. I left a message, asking him to call me. I mean, how hard can it be to get a couple trucks of crusher run and spread it out? This can't be a big deal even for the financially strapped TWRA.

Mayor Hutto was the first to return my calls. It quickly became apparent this was not the first he had heard of the problem. It also became apparent he and I needed to meet in person so he could clearly explain just where the situation stood. I agreed to call later and set a time for us to get together. All elected officials should be so helpful. No wonder I voted for him.

This was getting interesting...and complicated enough for me to see why it was more than just getting some potholes filled. As is often the case when government agencies are involved, simple is not in the equation.

On Feb. 11, I met with Mayor Hutto and what a great meeting it was. See, turns out, the areas in need of fixing, the last little piece of road and the parking area, ARE NOT owned by or the responsibility of Wilson County.

Also turns out, Mayor Hutto has been involved in trying to get the problem solved since Aug. 13, 2013. He has an entire folder of maps and correspondence with the involved parties. They even all got together and had a joint meeting on April 2, 2014.

But nothing happened. The road and parking area remained a mess.

Here is where the problem begins.

Both the road and the parking are owned, in just about equal amounts by the State of Tennessee (TWRA) and the U.S. (Corps of Engineers). To do what needs to be done, they require the funds.

According to a letter from Crystal D. Tingle with the Corps, ". . . repairs are part of our work plan but due to budget constraints we cannot provide a definite date when the repairs will be made."

She further explained, "Additionally our funds can only be spent on the property owned by the Corps of Engineers which does not include much of the parking lot and part of the roadway."

And she is correct. The rest belongs to the state -- TWRA.

In looking at a map that delineates just who owns what, it is obvious the area belonging to Wilson County is being maintained just fine. In the near future, I'll be contacting Crystal Tingle with Corps and Todd St. John with TWRA, (if I can ever catch him in the office) and see just where everything stands.

I'll get back to you on this.

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John Sloan - Outdoors
Bentley's Boat Dock, Corps of Engineers, John L. Sloan, Misty Cove, Ramsey Road, Randall Hutto, TWRA
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