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Change is coming to Clinton, but what kind?

It’s as simple as the toppings on a plain cheese pizza and as involved as building a jet engine in the dark. With your toes.

The fact is the look of the City of Clinton is about to change.

But how is that look going to change the city? How is it going to affect the citizens of Clinton?

Anderson County Chamber of Commerce President Rick Meredith is trying to get a feel for that.

“It’s … Complicated,” Meredith said last week.

“Clinton is at a crossroads,” he said. “And the Magnet Mills site is probably going to be the center piece.”

But, he noted, there is so much more involved.

The Chamber is working to pull together a master plan — a vision — for what the future could bring to the City of Clinton.

“It isn’t like we’re going in and saying, ‘This is what we need to do,’ or ‘This is what is going to happen,’” Meredith said.

“Our goal, the Chamber’s goal, is to bring in retail … Commercial businesses, and to support the businesses already here.”

The City of Clinton is on the verge of a unique opportunity.

Yes, the Magnet Mills site is key, but so is Tennessee Department of Transportation’s plan for a new bridge across the Clinch River, replacing Lewallen Bridge.

It just happens those two developments will happen at, or near, the same time.

Meredith envisions starting in South Clinton at the field near the Clinton Driving Range, including the new bridge over the Clinch River, running along the riverbank, and including the city’s historic district along Market and Main Streets.

“The idea is to come up with a plan that not only incorporates new development, but also show case the city’s strong historic district,” he said.

Meredith said a lot will depend on what happens to the Magnet Mill site, how it is developed, but that, as of now, that’s an unknown.

Clinton City Council has been pushing for the final clean up of the property and is planning on having a “slum ordinance” hearing in March to determine the plan for the remaining two buildings on the property, and the best way to dispose of the water tower.

“The tower is going,” Meredith said. “That’s just the reality of the situation.”

To help shape up a vision of what Clinton could be the Chamber brought in Gianni Longo and Associates from New York City.

Longo has quite a bit of experience helping municipalities reshape their images.

Longo’s firm redesigned Chattanooga’s riverfront.

His firm also redesigned Franklin’s historic district.

“We walked Market Street, down the river bank, looked at Lakefront Park … Getting an overall picture of what the city has to work with,” Meredith said.

And while formulating a “master vision” of what could be, Meredith said you have to factor in all the parties involved when you start doing a project of this nature.

He said the Chamber has identified all the properties that could be involved in a revitalization project and there are many “workable” scenarios.

“You have a lot of entities involved. You have the city, TVA, TDOT, and you have private property owners and the public,” Meredith said.

“It’s a master vision. Nothing more and nothing less.”

But, he pointed out, again, the opportunity is going to be there.

“No, we’re not Chattanooga. Nowhere near Chattanooga. And we’re not Franklin,” he said.

“We’re Clinton. We should make the best use of what we have.”

The Chamber will present a “master vision” hearing in February.

An unveiling of some of the ideas and concepts that have been worked out. It will be open to the public and input from everyone will be sought.

Meredith presented the concept to Clinton City Council during the body’s meeting Jan. 22, inviting officials to attend to give feedback.

A session has been scheduled for Monday, Feb. 19, in the JA building on the campus of Anderson County High School.

More concrete details about the meeting/hearing will be published in The Courier News when they become available.