The News
April 27, 2006
by Jared Porter

Noah Charney grew up in West Meade, and for as long as he can remember, the trees have always been there.

Charney, 26, and other West Meade residents want to make sure that doesn't change.

He hosted a gathering in the grassy circle at the intersection of Jocelyn Hollow Road and Jocelyn Hollow Court on Saturday--Earth Day-- to organize efforts to save the community's dense foliage

The idea was to bring the community together to begin thinking of ways to preserve what they have before it's too late.

Charney said he will begin a Ph.D biology program in Massachusetts soon and won't be able to spearhead such an initiative, so the community will have to depend on someone else to lead the way.

"I know in Massachusetts all our forests were cleared in the last 100 years. Now, we don't have any of this," Charney said, looking at the lush sylvan glade that covers nearby hills. "We'd all really like it. Down here, we're in the process ... of clearing it right now. I'd just really like to see (residents') grandkids be able to enjoy these forests as I've been enjoying them."

About 50 people gathered with Charney (fittingly, beneath a tree) and voiced their support. No decisions were made about what should be done, but Charney had an idea or two.

One idea is to work with the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation to put conservation easements on portions of some properties in the area to set up a preserve, he said.

Charney showed a photo of a development that is under way over the ridge from his neighborhood to illustrate what could happen if neighbors don't look out for their natural resources.

"They've been blasting out the mountain and leveling all the trees," he said. "They're coming our way."

Bellevue Councilman Charlie Tygard also had some ideas. Tygard represents the neighboring 35th District and attended the gathering in place of Councilman-at-Large Adam Dread, how is representing the 23rd District until a new district council member is elected in August.

One option is dedicating land for use as a park, Tygard said. Also, the city could provide guidance in regard to putting "conservation overlays and easements on (residents') property to maintain the character" of their neighborhood.

So often, neighborhoods aren't proactive and "get organized too late," Tygard said. "This is a good first step, I guess."

I may involve some give and take, he said.

"The next step," Charney said, "is more organizing, getting people together, deciding what they want to do and talking to (the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation) and trying to get an easement or whatever we need to do."

Added Don Safer, chairman of the Tennessee Environmental Council board and a West Meade resident: "Locally, people getting together makes a huge difference. It's the only way we're going to affect the environment."