By Leonard Abbatiello
Nov. 19, 2015
In a previous article, I pointed out how Oak Ridge has changed. To summarize, we have changed drastically since the mid-1970s, becoming Tennessee average in median income, graduation rates, ethnic and age distributions. We are also heavily in debt, as we continue to spend beyond our means for all of our high quality services.
About 50 percent of our housing is over 70 years old and in various conditions located on lots that are often unsuitable for today’s desired off-street parking. Currently, over 12 percent of all homes are vacant, and those on the market are selling at 75 percent of their initial asking price. All aging residential housing is collectively dropping in both value and desirability. Our low-income population has increased to the point that they are the majority of our residents, and they cannot financially support our high-end services. Today, we are building only 10s of new homes annually, and a large percentage of the Manhattan Era housing remains vacant. Department of Energy radioactive and hazardous waste storage taints the community image as an attractive place to live.
We have evolved to this condition from a city that was given to us citizens debt free in the 1960s and rocketed to be the highest property taxed Tennessee city by 1973. Since then, it has endured a long list of both failed and evaporated DOE promised self-sufficiency projects. Today, DOE self-sufficiency efforts are no longer offered by DOE. Things even got worse following the 1985 fragmentation of all DOE single contractor federal operations, which then made effective local financial discussions impossible. [Read more…]