Markli’s McFee expansion stand
Tonight as your Board of Mayor and Aldermen meets to enact this upcoming year’s Town budget, one item dwarfs all the others; the $6,100,000 Phase III expansion of McFee Park. This single line item is greater than the total Town operating budget and expenditures for fiscal year 2017.
It represents the single largest capital expenditure in the Town’s history. At our first reading of the budget June 14 and in budget workshops leading up to it, and in workshops and Board meetings regarding the McFee Park Phase III and IV Master Plan, Alderman Povlin and I have repeatedly questioned the proposed numbers as we have watched them climb to their present astronomical $13,000,000 projection.
Now, still without complete plans or even having seen an accurate topographic survey of the property, this Board is being asked to include in this budget a sum which, to my trained builder’s mind (over 40 years in capital budgeting and having built entire communities and shopping centers on similar sites), appears utterly fantastic. I have walked the entire 24.4 acre site and was deeply involved in successfully negotiating its below market purchase in 2010.
Adding to my concern is the fact that since these numbers were proposed last August, two unforeseen opportunities have presented themselves: 1. As a result of our annual junket to ICSC in Las Vegas in May, an opportunity to develop our Town Center and fill many vacant, dismal storefronts in our Kingston Pike core, and, 2. An opportunity to partner with Knox County to bring a Community/Senior Center to our urban core. Both of these may require significant commitments of capital.
In light of the above I will propose that we responsibly leverage the qualified professional procurement and construction talent resident in our citizenry to properly vet the park plans. I am absolutely confident that we will find a better way to build an expansion to our park that will include the much needed tennis and pickleball courts at a cost that will also allow us to pursue the other aims of our Strategic Plan in a fiscally responsible way.
Alderman Robert “Bob” Markli
Farragut mayoral candidate