McFee Park expansion is $2.1M less in final FY 19 budget

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen compromised on funding McFee Park expansion, reducing it from $6.1 million to $4 million, as the Board granted final approval to its 2019 fiscal year budget.

The Board voted unanimously to approve the budget with the reduced funding for the McFee expansion during its meeting Thursday, June 28.

During a workshop, which took place before the meeting, Board members hashed out the expansion’s costs, and Board members looked at another plan — a basic plan — estimated at $3.5 million.

While Alderman Louise Povlin objected to spending $6.1 million on expansion, which did not include amenities other than the great lawn, newly sworn-in interim Mayor Ron Pinchok asked Board members to keep the $6.1 million in this year’s budget.

“I just don’t want to change what we have right now without knowing for sure which way we want to go,” he said.

Alderman Robert “Bob” Markli said he believes all the work could be done for less.

“I believe we can get the whole great lawn, infrastructure, parking lots, picnic structure and tennis courts for $3.5 million,” he added.

“I don’t want to spend $6 million,” Povlin said.

“Would you do it for $4 million?” Pinchok asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

During the meeting, Chaho Road resident Drew Burnette voiced his support for the McFee Park expansion while a Sugarwood subdivision resident objected to spending $6.1 million on the project.

“We’ve heard you (residents) loud and clear, and we have revised the scope of design work to include all the tennis courts and pickleball courts,” Markli said. “We’ve adjusted the budget, and we feel very confident we can get it done — but that’s not going to happen without having pickleball and tennis courts.

“We all feel very strongly that we need to go ahead with the park,” he added, but noted some Board members were “nervous with the sums being set apart for the job without actually seeing plans.

“With all the projects that have come up since this park … we thought it would be irresponsible to put in that larger sum.”

“I think we funded it properly at this time, so we’re all excited to move forward with the park,” Pinchok said.

“I feel much more comfortable with (the $4 million funding), and budget,” Povlin said.

“The main thing here is that we’re funding for the design portion of it,” Aldermen Ron Williams said. “That’s important because when we talk about sponsorship on a court — whether it be tennis or pickleball — or anything else, the first thing (potential sponsors) will ask you is ‘Do you have funding?’

“If you say ‘no,’ they’re not really interested in talking to you about it,” he added. “With this, right here, we do have the first part of funding and we can move on.”

In other budget matters, Board also approved:

• Adding $35,000 to install a pedestrian signal at Grigsby Chapel Road, which the Board approved on first reading to 2019 Capital Investment Program budget.

• Adding $305,000 to the coming year’s budget for an additional lane on the west side of North Campbell Station Road from Snyder Road to the Interstate 40-/75 ramp to alleviate traffic jams.

• Adding $1.5 million to land acquisition. “We had, in land acquisition reserves, right at $1.6 million in the reserve account,” Town administrator David Smoak said.

“We moved $1.5 million to an expenditure account to give us $2 million in land acquisition funds to be able to purchase anything the Board feels like it can purchase for any kind of land next year; so in case an opportunity arises that we are able to acquire something, we will have the money allocated,” he added.

• Funding $650,000 in the FY 2020 budget for “adding a little bit of road widening with a sidewalk” from Andover subdivision at Smith Road to Everett Road.

Smoak said Town staff was unable to reach an agreement with Andover residents regarding a Smith Road greenway from Andover’s entrance to Everett Road.