Editorial: Let’s let Arrowmont process play out some more before it all becomes public

Aug. 08, 2013 @ 11:22 PM

Though the people who attended Monday’s mediation about Arrowmont have decided to stay in their own Cone of Silence, which is not necessarily a bad thing. News media and the public need to know things and see issues publicly aired, but in fact there are times when it’s best that those seeking a solution to a knotty problem not discuss it in the sunshine so much.

The all-day discussion, presided over by mediation expert Pamela Reeves, must have gone well. Nobody reported hearing screams or smashed lunch plates from the meeting room. The joint statement that emerged in a good sign. All they would say about the meeting was contained in this statement they all approved:

“All of the parties have met in mediation. It was a very positive and productive day. The process is ongoing, and when the details are fully resolved the information will be made available.”

For now that’s enough. If progress was made to find a way to keep Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, then let the process play out. There will be time enough to make everything public, since at some point government will have to be involved.

Attending were representatives of Arrowmont, the city of Gatlinburg, county government, the school system and the developer, Bob Bentz, who is about to exercise his option and buy the 14 acres housing Arrowmont. Bentz is buying the property from Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women and says he wants to find a way for Arrowmont to stay on its campus downtown.

However, much as he loves Arrowmont, he didn’t buy the land to lose money. His first priority, understandably, is to create a development that makes money on his investment. And if his development plans create a slot for Arrowmont that the school can live with, then Bentz will want to be compensated for that portion of the 14 acres. That’s where government and the private sector come in.

Government officials needed to hear from Arrowmont suppoters, and they did in the days leading up to the mediation. Now we’ll see where it all goes from here.

Arrowmont is an important entity in this community, one deserving of support and accommodation. The mediation brought together all the parties that can make that happen. It’s a good and encouraging start to what could be a protracted process.