No ‘typical days’ for David Smoak

Larry Van GuilderFarragut, Our Town Leaders

David Smoak will soon mark his tenth anniversary as Farragut’s town administrator. He came to the position in February 2010, and since then there have been few “typical days.” That’s exactly how he likes it.

On a given day he might tackle issues pertaining to personnel, development, one of the town’s parks, a special project or all of the above. The variety surely contributes to his upbeat attitude.

Smoak answers to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, who in turn answer to Farragut voters. The board establishes and prioritizes goals. The town administrator plays a key role in the process by presenting the board with “options” for action consistent with a five-year strategic plan and the town’s financial resources. The plan “rolls over” and is updated each year.

Since its establishment over 30 years ago, Farragut has been a busy place, with infrastructure and quality of life enhancements constantly in motion. For example, this year the town expects to solicit bids for Phase 3 of McFee Park, an ambitious build-out that will include a full-size basketball court, lighted tennis courts, a restroom and small pavilion, and a lighted walking trail that will loop around the park’s 50+ acres.

With utilities installation and stormwater systems, construction will consume a year, beginning in the winter of 2020. A road connection to a new entrance on McFee Road is also planned.

The long-awaited community center and senior center will also open soon, and work continues on the Campbell Station Inn.

The town recognizes that leisure time is important, but you can’t get to the playing fields without solid transportation infrastructure. Bids for improvements to Virtue Road and Union Road will be let between mid- and late-2020. For good measure, Smoak said the town will be investing more heavily in stormwater improvements.

That’s a lot of balls in the air and doesn’t even include writing grant applications. Federal and state grant money is always welcome, no matter the size of a municipality. That’s one area in which the experience and professionalism of the various department staffs prove invaluable.

“Each department is responsible for writing its own application,” Smoak said.

Because local and state sales taxes comprise nearly 75 percent of the town’s revenue, recruiting new business is crucial to Farragut’s financial health. Toss in the wholesale drink tax and the figure rises to 84 percent.

Consumption, then, is the name of the game. Recognizing that, business recruiting has evolved over the years.

“We’re focused more on developers than individual businesses,” Smoak said, specifically developers with an interest or background in mixed-use projects. “’Big boxes’ are going away.”

While mixed-use developments with smaller retail establishments and multi-family housing may not suit every resident’s vision of what Farragut should be, there’s no denying their value to the town. The increased population density that comes with multi-family housing means more consumption and increased revenue. And it’s worth noting that Overlook @ Farragut, an apartment complex a stone’s throw from the intersection of Campbell Station Road and I-40, opened without a single member of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen being hanged in effigy.

“Those are the first apartments built (here) in 20 years,” Smoak said. “It’s a delicate balance,” he added, referencing the often competing goals of development and maintaining the character of a community. He could as easily have been talking about the “never typical” days of this busy town leader.

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