Lee Erwin reporting
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Former Clarksville Mayor Johnny Piper was the guest speaker at the Clarksville Kiwanis Club weekly lunch meeting, Tuesday, February 4. Piper began his presentation with a brief video produced shortly before he left the mayor’s office and then spoke about his vision for a success and growth in Clarksville.
The video highlighted some of the projects and events that were part of his two terms in office. Two local disasters, the 1999 tornado and 2010 flood and how the city recovered were two points in the video. In December Piper spoke to the Clarksville Rotary Club and speaking to the Kiwanis he talked about why he is addressing local civic groups.
“I have been disappointed in the last three years because of the lack of investing in these types of projects. I don’t see a lot of vision and that’s why I have been asked to give some of these speeches. It’s not easy to say, particularly as a former mayor that you’re disappointed but the facts are there,” said Piper.
Piper said that transportation is the number one priority for the city. It was that way when he was in office and it should be that same way today. He added that with the increase in the city’s population, in his opinion, it was a critical error there has not been more investment in roads over the past three years.
“We desperately need to continuously focus on road construction. If you have a growing population, and no roads to carry the people, you will have traffic jams and road failures as we are experiencing today. It’s our leader’s responsibility to project what our needs are and provide funding for that,” Piper said.
Expansion of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Industrial Park was another topic Piper talked about. He mentioned looking into the possibility of restricting residential development in the area surrounding the park to allow more space for industry. Piper also said after checking on their future plans, some of the land owned by Hemlock Semiconductor could be bought to expand the space for industrial growth.
Other aspects of growth for Clarksville that Piper briefly touched on was a semi-pro football or baseball team, a major musical attraction, a theme park and a conference center. “Every city that is forward thinking and trying to get to another level has a conference center,” Piper said. He offered examples of other Tennessee cities with conference centers.
Improvements to downtown were another aspect of Piper’s address and he spoke about mentioning both The Two Rivers Company and the Clarksvilles Smart Growth Plan 2030. “I believe viable downtown’s are vitally important to a growing prosperous community. Let’s not let ours die,” said Piper.
After his address to the Kiwanis Club, Piper was asked about the possibility of a run for a local political office in the future. “I’ve served this city for years and I believe you can tell we got a lot of projects accomplished. I’m disappointed that we’re not moving this city forward and there aren’t more projects that are going continue to project us as a regional power,” Piper said.
Piper added, “I will do what I can to work within the system to try to move things forward. If not you never say never but I believe people are hungry for someone to take a leadership role and move Clarksville forward. Clarksville has a great history and they’re looking for someone to continue on the trajectory of moving this city forward and continuing to make it a great city,” said Piper