published Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Lookout Mountain studies offer to keep doctor

WHAT'S NEXT

A public meeting to discuss the sale of the Lookout Mountain, Tenn., property will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Lookout Mountain Elementary School auditorium.

Town officials in Lookout Mountain, Tenn., want to make sure the mountain's only physician practice doesn't leave.

So they're considering selling a 1-acre parcel of town-owned land on the corner of Scenic Highway and South Watauga Lane to family practitioner Dr. Bill Moore Smith so he can build an office there.

"The whole point is we want to keep his medical practice on Lookout Mountain," Town Consultant Dwight Montague said. "He's the only physician that has an office on Lookout Mountain."

Smith has said his current office on the Georgia side of Lookout Mountain is too small for his needs. At a meeting in May, he said he was looking to build a new office as soon as possible.

Smith and Chattanooga developer David DeVaney initially wanted to build a new office on the Georgia side of Lookout Mountain as part of a new town center proposed there.

Former Lookout Mountain, Tenn., town mayor Greg Brown approached Smith and proposed the Tennessee parcel as the site for a doctor's office, Montague said.

"The loss of a medical office on Lookout Mountain would be a greater loss than some public property," he said.

Neither Smith nor DeVaney could be reached for comment Friday.

The town bought the parcel in the early 1970s as a place to put dirt and rock from sewer trenches being dug then. It's commonly called Verlenden Park, after a neighboring home of a family with that name, he said.

"It never has been designated as a park," Montague said. "A few years ago, the public works department leveled it out and planted grass."

Traffic from Smith's doctor's office would be routed onto South Watauga Lane, not onto Scenic Highway, Montague noted.

Erlanger Health System now pays the lease for Smith's office on Lookout Mountain and at his other office at the base of Signal Mountain.

"Dr. Bill Moore Smith's practice, UT Erlanger Primary Care, fulfills a vital need for families who live and work in the Signal and Lookout Mountain communities," Erlanger spokeswoman Pat Charles stated in an email. "We are hopeful that Dr. Smith will continue to be able to serve those living on or near Lookout Mountain."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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