Putting together a “Best of 2021” list seems hard. Don’t get me wrong; plenty of good stuff happened in Farragut over the past year. But with Covid on the rise again, I can’t help but feel let down by 2021, which started with guarded optimism. This year was a little like our new 45-foot lighted tree at Mayor Ralph McGill Plaza ‒ we enjoyed it for a few weeks until it crashed to the ground during a storm.
In an attempt to get back to guarded optimism, let’s recall some of the good/interesting things from 2021.
Finding fun during a pandemic: My first column of 2021 was about Farragut restaurants offering heated outdoor seating. I’m not sure how fun it was to eat outside in January, but it was definitely a good alternative to being stuck at home. Plus, heated patios, along with carry-out orders, sustained our favorite eateries during a difficult time. Restaurants weren’t the only ones doing the Covid shuffle ‒ the Farragut Parks & Rec office had to get creative to offer safe activities to the community. The Farragut 40 program and Hide-and-Seek with the Admiral are a couple of examples.
Stormwater fix: Few would rate stormwater repairs as a highlight, but in 2021, the town of Farragut made significant repairs to 13 critical pipes using an innovative technology called Cured-in-Place Pipe Lining (CIPP). During CIPP, a resin-soaked membrane is used to line the inside of pipes and then filled with hot air or steam, which cures the resin, creating what is essentially a new pipe inside the old pipe. Given major flooding events in 2019 and 2020, this was an important update to the town’s infrastructure.
The Farragut real estate frenzy: Back in May, Eric Whitener of Farragut-based Knox Fox Real Estate Group summarized the town’s real estate market like this: “If a house lists for $250,000, it’s on the market for two days and has 20 offers. It’s not normal.” Since the market has continued to soar, I’m guessing there are no more houses listed at $250K. The bottom line is that East Tennessee looks good to out-of-state buyers, and few of us have plans to leave. That makes for a solid seller’s market in Farragut.
Farragut History Walk draws visitors: Heritage tourism is big business in Tennessee, given its abundance of museums, Civil War sites and music history, and the Farragut area has its fair share of noteworthy sites, like the Campbell Station Inn, the Farragut Museum and Pleasant Forest Cemetery. With that in mind, the Parks & Recreation department put together a history walk map that encourages visitors to stroll from Founders Park at Campbell Station to the cemetery, taking in sites along the way. Download the map here.
Parks & Rec Director Sue Stuhl celebrates 30 years: Her first position with the town was community programs director and her primary job was handling complaints. Within a few years, she was named parks and recreation director with a full-time staff of one. Stuhl now has nine full-time employees and several part-time staffers, and facilities have gone from one park to five parks, one plaza and a community center. Stuhl celebrated her anniversary by putting together a new Parks & Rec Master Plan, which goes before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in early 2022.
New park; new roads: In October, the ribbon was cut on the new BlueCross Healthy Place, located behind Town Hall. The town applied to receive the new playground, which was a gift from the BlueCross Foundation. It’s an amazing, inclusive play space that gets lots of use. In November, the first part of phase one of the reconstruction of Virtue Road was completed. In December, all four lanes of the improved Concord Road (a TDOT project) opened, making for smoother commutes.
It’s been a bumpy couple of years, but the town of Farragut continues to add parks, improve infrastructure and serve citizens in spite of ongoing challenges. Keep that in mind and you may find yourself feeling guardedly optimistic.
Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.