Dreams of having a Town community center and a much larger Knox County senior center in the immediate Farragut area are both coming true.
“I’m giddy,” Farragut Mayor Ron Pinchok said. “This has been a dream, a goal, for so many years to have a community center, and it’s finally happening.
“We’re especially thrilled to partner with Knox County. ... This is a great opportunity for our citizens to have something to enjoy.”
The former Faith Lutheran Church property, 239 Jamestowne Blvd. (34,000 square feet) adjacent to the church’s current building, officially was named new site for Town of Farragut’s community center and Knox County’s newest senior center during a press conference there Tuesday morning, July 24.
“Everybody was very complimentary about the process and being able to do a joint project for the second time in 38 years,” said 5th District Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker, whose district includes Farragut,
He joined a unanimous Commission vote to approve the joint venture during KCC’s meeting Monday evening, July 23.
“Having a good relationship helped get us to this point,” he added. “I really commend (the Town’s) efforts.”
Upon taking office, Schoonmaker said he started attending Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings, which helped him develop a relationship.
In reference to the current facility, Frank R. Strang Senior Center (109 Lovell Heights Road just east of Farragut), “It’s unfortunate when they build up the classes and then have to turn people away because they don’t have room for them in the class because the meeting area’s not big enough or there is no parking,” Schoonmaker said.
“This will not be a problem at the new location,” he added.
Schoonmaker added he does not know the timetable for the new center’s opening.
Eventually the county will sell the Strang Center building and “put it back on the tax rolls.”
The Board voted unanimously July 12 to purchase the property for $2 million. Schoonmaker said the Town will own it, the county will lease it and “we will share any of the (cost of) repairs” and “split the utility bills.”
The county also will designate up to $2 million toward renovation; if those costs exceed $2 million, the Town and county will share excess costs. The Board voted July 12 to place a cap on such costs, not to exceed $250,000.
Town attorney Tom Hale said the Town has a window of about 30 days, during an inspection period, to back out of the deal.
“It’s my understanding the Town of Farragut has been looking at some kind of community center for 20-plus years and just never found the right opportunity,” Schoonmaker said.