I was amused to read recently that Scott Cochran, the promoter for the town’s upcoming Rumble in the Smokies motorcycle rally, stated that noise would be an unavoidable inconvenience to residents and “the biggest complaint you will have, and the biggest I have (is noise). I can’t sugarcoat that. It is noisy and it is aggravating.”
How generous of Mr. Cochran to warn residents and tourists that they will be assaulted for three days with the deafening sound of perhaps thousands of motorcycles, not to mention inconvenienced by closed downtown streets and blocked traffic.
Mr. Cochran – who conveniently received a $14,000 marketing grant from Franklin’s Tourism Development Authority - has assured town leaders that the rally could draw perhaps 4000 bikers, that cash registers of local merchants will ring non-stop, and that “99.9 percent of these bikers will be recreational” – whatever that means.
Let me be clear. I have nothing against motorcyclists. What I object to is the disruptive din emanating from many of their machines. I can attest that my quality of life has been negatively impacted by their presence along Highway 28 north. It’s a dreaded intrusion that arrives with early spring and lasts until the first frost.
With one lone exception, the town’s alderman have been united in supporting the rally. As Mayor Joe Collins stated, the event is being “tendered in good faith and the belief that it would be beneficial.” Put another way, town leaders have no idea if the rally will be a big mistake, but the only way to find out is do it anyway and hope for the best. That, my friends, is circular reasoning at its ugliest.
It may come as a surprise to town leaders, but the lure of Macon County has nothing to do with excessive noise and inconvenience. Residents, part-timers, and tourists alike are here because of the easy and quiet pace a small town offers. It’s unfortunate that Franklin’s ambiance is often compromised by its elected officials for the sake of questionable economic gain.
The argument that local merchants will benefit from the rally (at the expense of residents and tourists) is weak. If the alderman are so concerned about the economic woes of local merchants, they should reconsider the Super Wal-Mart now under construction - which they welcomed with open arms.
Instead of replicating what other mountain communities have already done, Franklin’s political leaders should spend their taxpayer-supported time protecting and preserving what remains of our area’s intrinsic value. Frankly, I doubt most folks who reside in or visit Franklin, want to hear the Smoky Mountains rumbling non-stop for three days and nights.
Carol Ramsey—Franklin, NC