Where’s Tim Now?

Last week Tim was on top of Orchard Knob in Chattanooga. Orchard Knob is part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. You can see several state monuments, cannons, and a great perspective of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge from the knob. To learn more about the history of Orchard Knob, you can visit the National Park Service site.

Orchard Knob_Where's Tim-JT_answer

Your Dream Neighborhood

Hey kids! If you could live anywhere in the whole world, where would you live? Let your imagination be your guide. Ask your parents if you can print out our neighborhood coloring sheets. On one side you can draw the neighborhood of your dreams, and on the other your can draw the neighborhood where you live now. Does you neighborhood have houses, shops, trees, and streets? Is your school in your neighborhood?

We’d love to see what you draw! Ask your parents to share photos of your drawings with us on twitter and tag @RPAchat or on our facebook page at facebook.com/chcrpa.

Here are some examples that kids drew for us at our pop-up planner booths at the Chattanooga Library Downtown and the St. Albans farmers market in Hixson.


dream hood

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Planner Speak: So what is multimodal transportation?

Multimodal transportation may sound like something that only happens in a galaxy far far away, but it is probably something that you do on a daily basis. If you’ve ridden your bike to the bus stop, taken a taxi to the airport, or walked from the parking lot to your office, you are familiar with multimodal transportation.

Multimodal transportation (n.) is the many ways that people and things get from place to place using several different modes of transportation. Walking, biking, wheelchairs, buses, trains, cars, trucks, taxis, airplanes, and boats are all modes, or forms, of transportation.

Planners are interested in making it easy and convenient for people and things to get to the places they want or need to go. To make it easy to get around, planners must consider how to make connections between different modes of transportation.  If the different modes are connected, goods that have traveled from one state to another on a barge can get to their final destination in a truck or people can take a short walk from their offices to get to a shuttle that will take them to their favorite place for lunch.

walking  LJ Bike on Bus  barge

To improve connections between transportation modes, the RPA is working with CARTA, Chattanooga’s Transportation Department, and the Benwood Foundation on a Multimodal Transportation Center Study. The study is evaluating possible locations where car and bike parking, car sharing, bike share,  taxis, buses, and possible future rail service could all come together in one or more transportation centers.

While RPA makes plans to increase transportation options, we also have a Green Trips program that encourages people to take advantage of the wide range of options that are already available in our community. You can learn about different ways of getting around and the benefits of doing so  as well as winning rewards for logging your green trips.

Where’s Tim Now?

Last week Tim was at the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park in Birchwood. The map in the park’s amphitheater plaza shows the Trail of Tears, the routes that Cherokees took when they were forced to move from their homelands to what was designated Indian Territory in Oklahoma. The park is located at the site of Blythe Ferry, where most of the Cherokee departed their homeland. Blythe Ferry is at the confluence of the Hiawassee River and the Tennessee River. The park is actually just north of Hamilton County in Rhea County, Tennessee.

At the time of the Cherokee removal, the southeast was in severe drought, making ferry crossings difficult due to low water levels. Some boats had to wait up to six weeks to cross the Tennessee River.

William Blythe, a Cherokee, established Blythe Ferry in 1809. He sold the ferry in 1835 and headed west with his wife before the forced removal. A ferry operated at the site until 1994 when the Highway 60 Bridge was built.

Blythe's Ferry_Answer

Where’s Tim Now?

Last week Tim traveled in time to the turn of the 20th century! He visited Umbrella Rock in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. You can hike down to Umbrella Rock from the Point Park trailhead on Lookout Mountain. At an elevation of 2,135 feet, Point Park offers stunning views of Moccasin Bend and Chattanooga. For an even bigger adventure, you can take the Incline Railway up to Point Park from St. Elmo or hike the 1.5 miles from Cravens House.

 Umbrella rock - lookout mountain_answer

Planner Speak: What do you mean by infrastructure?

Last week we introduced the term “built environment” and explained that infrastructure is part of the built environment. Without infrastructure, many of the things we take for granted would be impossible, or at least far more difficult. Getting around, having clean drinking water, getting rid of our trash and recyclables, talking to people who are miles away, and turning on the lights are all made possible by infrastructure.

Infrastructure (n.) is the structures and services that support a community. Roads, sewers, waste collection services, electrical power networks, and mobile phone networks are all examples of infrastructure. Infrastructure supports the production and distribution of goods and services.

Transportation infrastructure makes it possible for us to get from place to place. Highways, smaller roads, bridges, tunnels, street lights, traffic lights, buses, rail lines, airports, ferries, paths for bicyclists and pedestrians, sidewalks, and bike lanes are all part of our transportation infrastructure. These are the structures that support multimodal transportation. For a deep dive into the term ‘multimodal transportation’, check back next week.


We also need infrastructure to manage water, from purifying and distributing drinking water to managing storm water, irrigating crops, controlling floods, removing snow from roads, and disposing of waste water that comes from our toilets and washing machines.

MBWWTPstorm drainage

When you flip on a light switch, do you think about the vast network of energy infrastructure that powers your light bulbs? The power could come from fossil fuels, nuclear power, solar, wind, or hydroelectric. Whatever the source, it is distributed to you through the electrical grid.  Aside from the electrical power network, other examples of energy infrastructure include natural gas pipelines, electric vehicle charging stations, and steam heating systems.

A large portion of our cities’ and county’s infrastructure is designed, constructed, and maintained by public works departments. This week is National Public Works week so this would be a great time to take a moment and thank your public works department for taking care of the structures and services that help us live happy, healthy lives.

Where’s Tim Now?

Last week Tim was trying to steal home plate at the Chattanooga Lookouts baseball stadium. The stadium was constructed in early March of 1999 in downtown Chattanooga. The Lookouts defeated the Birmingham Barons 5-4 in their first game at BellSouth Park on April 10, 2000. In 2007 the stadium was renamed to AT&T Field. Prior to that, the Chattanooga Lookouts played at Engel Stadium. To learn more about the history of baseball in Chattanooga, visit the Lookouts History page and the site for Historic Engel Stadium.

Tomorrow Tim will be setting out on a new adventure! Be sure to visit our facebook page or follow us on twitter to see where Tim goes next.


Planner Speak: What on earth is the built environment?

When you hear the word ‘environment’, you probably don’t think about anything that was built. Instead images of rivers, forests, mountains, waterfalls, or birds in the trees might come to mind. These are all elements of the natural environment, or all of the living and non-living things that occur naturally in our surroundings. The flip side of the natural environment is the built environment.

The built environment (n.) is everything in our surroundings made by people. Homes, offices, roads, sidewalks, wastewater treatment plants, wireless cell towers, parks, and farms are all part of the built environment. The built environment can range in scale from a single building, to a neighborhood, to an entire city.

office   homes

road   walnut st bridge

The infrastructure that is made by people to support communities is also part of the built environment. You can check back next week for a deep dive into the term ‘infrastructure’, but basically, the systems and structures that people create for water supply, transportation, waste management, telecommunications, and electrical power are all examples of infrastructure.

There is a grey area between the built environment and the natural environment. While parks, landscaping, and farms seem like natural spaces, they could be considered part of the built environment because people change the natural landscape to create all three. Parks may include playgrounds and paths built by people as well as trees, grass, and flowers planted and maintained by people. Landscaping, such as a row of bushes planted between two buildings or trees planted between the sidewalk and the road are also part of the built environment. Farmers may leave part of their land untouched, such as a forest or prairie, so these areas would be considered part of the natural environment. However, if a farmer is tilling soil, planting seeds, and cultivating crops, or raising livestock and sending the animals to a pasture to graze, then these lands would be considered part of the built environment because the farmers are changing the natural landscape to produce food for us to eat.

One challenge that cities and regions face is balancing growth of the built environment with preservation of the natural environment. One of the policies in the Comprehensive Plan 2030 is to “encourage responsible development that maintains the quality and integrity of existing natural resources”. Now that we are updating the comprehensive plan, we want to hear what you think about future development in our area. We want to know what is important to you about your surroundings, both the built environment and the natural environment. Tell us, “What do you want to grow?” in our area by visiting one of our ‘pop-up planner‘ booths or setting your priorities online.

Where’s Tim Now?

Thanks for joining Tim on his adventure, exploring the Chattanooga-Hamilton County region!

Last week, Tim was at the top of Falling Water Falls in the Town of Walden. Falling Water Falls is a 110 foot waterfall. That is over 12 times taller than the tallest man in the world!

To visit the falls, drive to the top of Signal Mountain. North of Signal Mountain on Hwy 127, turn on Fairmount Pike at Fairmount Orchard. At the first stop sign bear right onto Key Hulse Street. Go straight through the four-way stop onto Lake St. Take a left onto Ivory Ave., and then bear right on Chestnut St. Go straight onto Forest Park Ave for about two miles to the parking area. After a short hike, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Tennessee Valley.

To learn more about hiking adventures in our area, visit the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy site.

Tomorrow Tim will be setting out on a new adventure! Be sure to visit our facebook page or follow us on twitter to see where Tim goes next.


Planner Speak: What do you mean by public participation?

We are in the midst of public participation for ‘Renewing Our Vision’! What exactly do we mean by public participation? You’ve probably relaxed on a bench in a public park or used a public restroom. You might have participated in an event in your neighborhood or at your child’s school. But what does it mean when we smush together the words ‘public’ and ‘participation’?


Public participation (n.) means involving people in creating and managing the world around them. The idea is that when everyone is actively involved, we can make the world around us even better. The people who live in a place are often the ones who are most familiar with the local history, culture, issues, and needs. When locals share their knowledge with planners, it is more likely that they can work together to come up with the best solutions for local issues. When everyone feels welcome to share their concerns and their ideas, it is more likely that their concerns can be addressed.

Public participation is about bringing people together to solve problems. It is about giving people the chance to help make decisions about their community.


What do planners hope to get out of public participation? The answer depends on what type of plan they are creating and whether they are at the beginning, middle, or end of the process. The goals of public participation could be to:

  • generate ideas,
  • identify attitudes,
  • share information,
  • resolve conflicts,
  • measure opinions,
  • get feedback on a proposal, or
  • start a conversation.

How does the public get involved with making a plan? Typically, planners invite people to come to public meetings to get involved. At the meeting, a planner might give a presentation to explain what the plan is about or share research that they’ve done. They might ask people to break up into small groups, discuss a particular issue, and then choose a spokesperson to report their ideas to everyone. There might be posters with maps or graphics around the room, and the planners might invite people to draw on the maps or write their comments down.


Public meetings can be a good way to bring people together and get their feedback, but not everyone enjoys or is able to attend public meetings. Sometimes people have a hard time getting to the meeting location.  Some people work evenings, when public meetings are usually held. Some people would rather just relax and enjoy time with their families after a long day.

For ‘Renewing Our Vision’, we want to make sure that as many people in our community as possible participate in the comprehensive plan update. Instead of making you come to us, we’re coming to you by popping up at community events and tagging along at existing meetings. We also have ways for you to share your feedback online, on your own time, from the comfort of your own home.  Here are a few of the creative activities that you and your neighbors can get involved with:

  • Pop-up planners: We’ll be popping up in your city and across the county, inviting you to play games. Your answers will help us set priorities for our region. To see where we’re popping up next, check out our calendar;
  • Tag-along meetings: Instead of making you come to us, we’ll come to your meeting. To invite us to tag-along at your meeting, fill out our contact form and select ‘I want a planner to come to my meeting;
  • Technical and community advisory committees: Folks from government agencies, nonprofits, and business organizations are giving us advice along the way;
  • This Blog: You can read other blog entries  and post your comments below to start a conversation about the ‘Planner Speak’ word of the week;
  • Social Media: Like us on facebook and follow us on twitter for quotes of the week, ‘Where’s Tim Now?’ picture games, and event announcements;
  • Quizlets: Answer fun questions like ‘What ice-cream flavor describes your neighborhood?’;
  • Our newsletter: Sign up in the upper right-hand corner of this page to receive updates about our progress;

Whether you prefer to share your thoughts in person or online, we have way for you to get involved. If everyone participates in ‘Renewing Our Vision’, we can work together to make the Chattanooga-Hamilton County area an even better place!