Public needs a say on new Town park
One of the best things about the Town of Farragut is our parks and walking trails. I, like many residents, enjoy these amenities throughout the year. At the April 20 (Farragut Municipal) Planning Commission Meeting, Town administrator (David Smoak) announced that the Town was budgeting $5.6M for the purchase of approximately 50 acres southwest of McFee Park.
Recently, Knox County Schools considered 38-plus acres in this location for a new elementary school. After that deal fell through, it seems the land owners approached the Town of Farragut about making this purchase.
It is interesting that the land owners are seeking to sell this prime real estate to a local government entity. If you look at the Knoxville GIS site, you will note that the land owners own over 200 hundred acres in this area.
The big issue is road access to the land. On the north is a small rural road (Allen Kirby Road) and to the south, beyond the railroad tracks, is Boyd Station Road. In order to get access to a new park in this area, the Town would need to install a new road extending west from McFee Road. This not only gives access to the 50 acres for a park, but to approximately 170 acres to potential residential development, too.
Having the Town of Farragut build the road would be a significant cost savings to a developer and add a significant amount of traffic to surrounding roads.
While the development of this new park is years away, it will have an impact on the residents of the South Ward, in particular those that live along McFee and Virtue Roads. There is already a great deal of traffic and new residential growth in this area, and this development would exacerbate the issue.
I understand the desire is to place several ballfields in this location. This seems to be in direct competition to a large sports complex going in on Watt Road just north of I-40. Wouldn’t the Town be better served by an investment into a large park close to the Town Center?
Wouldn’t a town center location bring more families into the area to shop and dine at our local establishments? That seems like a much better location than on the border of Loudon County.
Before this purchase goes through, the Town ought to workshop this item with residents, in particular those along McFee and Virtue roads, to discuss the benefits and impacts on the area. Traffic infrastructure mitigation strategies and planning should be put in place to address the future traffic patterns, and Town of Farragut should consider the impact of the complex going in on Watt Road.
With such a significant expenditure, I hope the Board of Mayor and Aldermen discuss this project with the community before entering into a contract.
Michael Wilson, Farragut