town view: Vice Mayor Ron Pinchok

McFee Park expansion; Inn’s ‘real’ $3.25m cost to date

There are two topics that I would like to cover this month. The first is the expansion of McFee Park and the second is the Campbell Station Inn project.

In 2010, the Town purchased the former Dimmick Tree Farm [24.4 acres] on McFee Road next to the current park, which is 26.4 acres, for a total of over 50 acres. In 2012, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen [BOMA] approved a plan to develop the entire 50 acres. Since then, we have developed only 15 acres to include two lighted rectangular fields, a playground, a splash pad, walking trails and two restrooms. For five years, we have not seen any further progress with the remaining 35 acres.

In 2016, the Town hired Ross/Fowler (landscape architecture firm) to study the property again to determine what changes in our park’s master plan were needed. Ross/Fowler presented a new master plan for McFee Park based on the results of several months of interviews, surveys, public hearings, Town committee input, recommendations from the Municipal Planning Commission and BMA workshops. On August 24, 2017, the plan was approved by BOMA along with our recently adopted and approved Strategic Plan.

Our new Strategic Plan includes “Providing Excellent Parks, Recreation, Cultural Amenities and Programs” as a Critical Success Factor. The aspirational goal of the success factor is: “Farragut’s expanded parks allow for a variety of experiences for visitors and residents. The Town provides events, programs and cultural activities that support tourism and enhance a sense of community.”

Finally, at our Dec. 14 BOMA meeting, the board approved a contract for McFee Park Phase 3 surveying services. I am excited to tell you that work has finally begun on the park. The survey work has started and the contractor is finished with the grubbing [clearing out the underbrush].

I am impressed to see how much this has opened up the land to give us a great look at what this property has to offer. The development of Phase 3 will include mass grading of the site; connection from the current road to a new entrance on McFee Road; site utility systems for the entire project; east pavilion and restroom; parking lots and the “great lawn” – a vast, open expanse to be used for Town events and for the enjoyment of our citizens.

When Phase 3 is completed, which will take about 24 months, our citizens will finally have access to the majority of the acreage. Each step of Phase 3, and there will be several steps taking place over the next year, will have to be approved by BOMA. So far, only the surveying step has been approved.

As we hire a tourism coordinator and begin to create a tourism program, we need to keep in mind that one of our key goals is to create activities that will entertain our out-of-town friends and relatives (who make up a significant percentage of our tourists) when they come to visit our great community. In addition to the great lawn, this park will eventually have tennis courts, pickle ball courts, two dog parks, frisbee golf, an amphitheater and much more. It will play a huge role in fulfilling our goals of a healthier lifestyle, more entertainment choices and higher land values.

The second topic I want to address is the Campbell Station Inn property on the corner of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road. In a farragutpress article on Nov. 23, the front page headline read in bold letters “Inn cost up to $8.5m.” This was incorrect and we asked that it be corrected. Unfortunately, the error was noted in the next issue at the bottom of page two.

I want to make a few points that I hope might give some clarity to what has transpired and to our plans going forward.

The house and 2.7-acre property were purchased in 2013 for $1.25 million. The early 1800s house is a historical structure that we want to preserve. BOMA recently approved $2 million to stabilize the building, remove the additions, which were not part of the original structure, remove the cinder block building behind the house and grade the property for future development.

This, in itself, will make a huge improvement to the appearance of this strategic piece of property. Since we now own this property in the middle of what we plan to be our Town Center, we hope to develop it in a manner that will enhance the beauty and historical value of Farragut.

So far, we will have spent or approved approximately $3.25 million on the Campbell Station Inn. This is significantly less than the $8.5 million the press reported. We have planned, but not yet approved, another $2 million for restrooms, parking, roads [including a connection to Village Green shopping center] and a plaza. In the future, we may want to put one or two [two to four-story] buildings on the site as well. These are exciting possibilities.

I want to close with our Vision: “Farragut – redefining quality of life with a beautiful, close-knit, connected community where families and business thrive.”