If you feel like there’s a lot going on in Farragut, you’re right.
Last week, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen had a workshop to discuss two large park projects – a planned plaza around the Campbell Station Inn and the next phase of McFee Park. Vice Mayor Louise Povlin pointed out that these projects are in addition to renovations at the former Faith Lutheran Church, which was purchased by the Town in August for a Farragut community center and a Knox County senior center. She also alluded to a possible Town Center development that could call for an investment on the Town’s part, but no developer has submitted a plan or proposal yet.
All of the Town’s projects are in the current budget, but the board needs to decide how to spend the McFee Park Phase 3 construction budget – currently set at $4 million. The park, which already boasts a multi-use field, splash pad, playground and two pavilions, has 35 undeveloped acres.
Because the space offers so many possibilities, the board has three very different options on the table. The purpose of last week’s workshop was to amend the contract with landscape architecture firm Ross/Fowler to include schematic design and estimation of construction costs for each option. (The board agreed that such plans are needed.)
One plan includes grading the entire site with future improvements in mind. A new access road that loops around a large open space appropriate for special events and personal recreation would connect with the current entrance, and one restroom, one pavilion, walking trails, lighting and utilities would also be added. Another plan consists of a second entrance to the park that leads directly to a tennis/pickleball complex with a pavilion and a restroom. Grading would be limited to the immediate area. A third plan is the combination of both.
It was obvious during the short discussion that the board, which has two new aldermen who were not in office in 2016 when the park’s master plan was updated, don’t fully agree about what should happen next.
The number of proposed tennis courts, and the nature of the tennis facility, provoked the most discussion. Povlin would like to see enough courts to serve the community, particularly the Farragut High School tennis team. Mayor Ron Williams has a larger vision—up to eight courts, striped for both tennis and pickleball, that would create an attractive site for tournaments.
New Alderman Drew Burnette says he’s not sure about the demand for tennis. He would like to see the park’s infrastructure built first.
While members currently don’t agree on the next step, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen does agree that it wants to move forward with improving McFee Park. Getting the cost estimates back for each option will give some clarity. Should the infrastructure for the entire park be put in place now in preparation for facilities that can be added later, or should a small section of the park be developed primarily for racket sports? Or is the community willing to budget additional funds in order to do both? Whatever the board decides, much discussion is sure to follow.
They would like feedback from the Farragut community, so now is the time to speak up. Contact info for each board member is available at townoffarragut.org/board.
Wendy Smith is coordinator of public relations and marketing for the Town of Farragut.