Monday, July 23, 2012

Portland, Tennessee: Life in a Small Town

I'm always fascinated how "someone else's" local news can seem irrelevant until you're a part of it.

Last week, I visited a Marine buddy and I spent a couple days in the small Tennessee town of Portland. My buddy is the seventh generation of his family to live there. When he was a kid, the town's population was about 6,000; now, a few decades later, it's doubled to about 12,000. There's even a street, which bears his surname, that used to be the driveway to his grandfather's farm.

Main Street revitalization board meeting.
After living there for so many generations my buddy knows his neighbors and the town's history. As an attorney, my buddy has an office in downtown Portland on Main Street and he also serves on a couple local non-profits.

While I was visiting, I had the opportunity to accompany him, as an observer, at a board meeting of a soon-to-be-formed non-profit to revitalize the downtown area. Most of the 90 minute meeting was run by a state rep who specialized in helping Tennessee towns implement Main Street revitalization plans focusing on design, history, and the economy.

Portland Airport expansion plans on the drawing board.
The previous day, my wife and I flew into the Portland Municipal Airport. For such a small town, the airport has a surprisingly long runway - 5,000'. But, apparently that's not long enough for Portland. A few hours before the meeting, I read an article on the front page of the local paper, The Shopper, about how the city had plans on the drawing board to extend the runway.

When I walked into the downtown revitalization planning meeting I immediately noticed the airport expansion plans, quite literally, on the drawing board. It struck me as a coincidence that I should see the very plans, at an unrelated meeting, which I had just read about on the front page of the local newspaper.

Portland's future airport plans include lengthening the runway by 200' and adding taxiway access to each end. Large corporate jets should have no problem landing on a 5,200' runway. Currently, pilots have to taxi on the runway to get to the end before beginning their takeoff run (a technique called back taxiing). I hope that a bigger airport means bigger business for Portland.

1 comment:

Carl Maxwell said...

This post and experience of yours is really interesting. As a former engineer of the perth airport long term parking, I also wish to be given a chance like this, to visit some sites in order to learn new things and widen the horizon of my experience.