Master plan for McFee approved

A master plan to expand McFee Park finally got approval, but not without reservations expressed by Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen members.

After an hour-long workshop before and a lengthy discussion during the BOMA meeting Thursday, Aug. 24, the Board approved the master plan and an optional direction to start the ball rolling.

The Board approved a phase option to include mass grading, an additional entrance road and infrastructure, construction of an east pavilion, restroom, east pavilion parking and entire great lawn and loop trail.

David Smoak, Town administrator, said the Town would not have a real cost until a design is chosen and the phase is bid.

Mike Fowler, president of Ross/Fowler Landscape Architecture Urban Design & Planning, which the Board hired in September 2016 to come up with a master plan, initially presented the plan during the workshop.

The completed current plan would include:

• A racquet court area with six tennis courts, four pickleball courts, a hitting wall and restroom; a destination playground; dog park; amphitheater with restroom; disc golf course with 18 wooded holes and small pavilion; a great lawn for events; maintenance building; additional pavilion near the splash pad; additional parking; ADA walking trails; natural challenge walking trails and a variety of open picnic table locations.

Total project cost for the current plan was estimated at $12,538,840, Smoak said.

When the master plan was conceived in 2015, the cost was estimated at $10.5 million, he said. Before that, it was estimated at $8.4 million.

Vice Mayor Ron Pinchok warned if the Board waits to start on the project for another five years or so, the cost only would increase.

“We know we can’t do the entire park now,” Smoak said, adding the designers were asked to give several options for future phases so they could get the Board’s “input on not only the master plan but also the phases.”

Smoak said there is $30,000 in the Town’s available fund balance that could go toward the project.

Fowler presented seven options for phases, ranging from $2.10 million to $6.6 million. While some options included amenities, others simply focused on grading the property.

The option which Board members agreed was “the most logical” was one estimated to cost $6.1 million.

While Pinchok said he thought that option is doable, Alderman Bob Markli took exception to that cost estimate.

“I have a really tough time wrapping my head around the $6.1 million,” he said. “I consider that pie in the sky. … I think [the cost] could be brought down considerably.”

Alderman Louise Povlin expressed concerns of her own.

“My concern is that while [that option] makes the most sense, from a community perspective, I look at doing less [grading] and just getting the racquet courts,” she said. “Then, the citizens could use it and they could see something happening.”

Markli said the road projects should take precedence over the parks.

“I love the parks, but we have safety issues,” he said. During the meeting, his was the lone vote against the master plan.

Povlin said she also was concerned about the costs compared to the Town’s other projects coming up, such as the stormwater infrastructure, and she disagreed with building an amphitheater in the park. Instead, she preferred the amphitheater be placed in the proposed Town Center.

Pinchok, however, argued a Town Center could be a long time coming.

“I have a little bit different plan,” Alderman Ron Williams said. While he likes the major grading option, Williams suggested finding sponsors for the amenities.

“I think the key is to grade the road,” Pinchok said.

Smoak and Pinchok both said the costs for the park project would not affect other projects.

Citizens’ opinions were mixed.

While Betty Pinchok and Valerie DeBoe, both on the Town’s Parks and Recreation Committee, rallied for the park expansion, Kelly Clancy, a Village Green resident, said he wanted to see the project put on a referendum because of the costs involved.

In other business, the Board approved:

• An ordinance, on second reading, to amend the Town’s equipment fund, which increased appropriated expenditures from $123,000 to $144,000 so Public Works can purchase a pick-up truck to replace a 2009 Ford F150 pick-up truck.

• A request by residents to install traffic calming “cushions” in four locations on Thornton Drive, located in Thornton Heights subdivision.

Farragut Beer Board approved unanimously:

• A special occasion beer permit for Shop Farragut/Farragut Business Alliance’s Farragut Half Marathon Post Race Party, which is slated from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, in the parking lot of the former Kroger location.

• An on-premise beer permit for Cotton Eyed Joe, 11220 Outlet Drive.