Editorial: Town shouldn't change its name to Rocky Top just for proposed development

Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:57 PM

Just about an hour northwest of here, a small Tennessee town was voting last night on whether or not to change its name.

Lake City, Tenn., has been courted by a group of prospective developers to consider changing its name to Rocky Top, Tenn., an obvious play on the Gatlinburg-penned tune by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.

It was expected the town council would go along and approve the measure Thursday night. Most residents seem in favor of the proposal, despite the corporate tie-in.

Apparently a pair of Knoxvillians, along with an Anderson County commissioner and some other business folks, have come up with a plan for a multi-million dollar theme park off Lake City's two I-75 exits. 

It seems as though the city changing its name has been sold as mandatory for plans to go forward with the development — which aren't too concrete anyway. They seem mainly to be PowerPoint presentations and drawings.

All in all, it sounds a little hasty.

In fact, it sounds a little similar to how the town got its current name, Lake City.

When TVA built Norris Dam back in the 1930s, Coal Creek decided to make a play on possible tourist traffic created by the dam's lake.

That tourism, at least for Lake City, never really caught on, but the Coal Creek name — which had a significant history with the town, was gone.

If people in the northern part of Anderson County really prefer for their town to be named Rocky Top, despite the area having relatively few rocky tops, they should change it. They shouldn't be doing it strictly for the development, however.

All too often — especially in the past decade or so — planned developments have come and gone like dust in the wind.

Just 50 miles or so north of Lake City sits an almost completely unused interstate exchange built for a largely abandoned resort community, Rarity Mountain.

Now, driving by I-75 exit 156, you can almost swear you see the tumbleweeds. Over $12.4 million in public funds spent largely for nothing.

Should the development of the proposed theme park not come to fruition, Lake City would have a catchy new name, but nothing more to show for it — other than having co-opted the nickname of the Thunderhead Mountain peak and the song most closely associated with the University of Tennessee.