Contract ‘wise,’ yet ‘a waste’ of 103k

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen, in a 4-1 vote, approved a professional services agreement with a consulting firm to come up with a “visioning plan” for the Mixed Use Town Center and updates to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan during its meeting Thursday, May 25.

While Mayor Ron Williams, Vice Mayor Louise Povin and Aldermen Scott Meyer and Drew Burnette voted to approve the contract, Alderman David White voiced a strong opinion in voting against entering into the contract with Tunnell-Spangler & Associates for $103,000.

“I think this is a colossal waste of $100,000,” White said. “I’ve seen a lot of contracts. It’s probably the worst contract I’ve ever seen.

“It’s all toward the provider, not much for the Town,” he added. “If you look at the scope of services and you read down the list, about everything in there is already covered by somebody else doing it … what do we do? What’s our job?

In short, “It doesn’t make any sense to spend $100,000 to get somebody to look at things we’re already looking at and have looked at for years,” White said.

“But we felt like, given the historical importance of the downtown concept, that when we started to work on this particular portion of Town, it might be useful to have an outside group come in and assist the Town in developing this community documentation,” Community Development director Mark Shipley said.

“I’m actually excited about this (contract),” Meyer said.

“This is a very important part of Town for us,” Burnette said. “I think we can use all the help we can get, including extensive public outreach and feedback. ... I think is a wise move. “

Povlin agreed with Burnette. “I know the Kingston Pike sub area we just went through, for Mark to put that together … (but) now we’re talking about a Mixed Use Town Center,” she said. “This is complicated.

“.... I think this would be too big a task for our Community Development department to take on,” Povlin added.

“It is a lot of money, there’s no doubt,” Williams said, noting the Town government has gone through numerous corridor studies.

“We learned we were burning a lot of staff time to do these things,” he added. “When you look at the Town Center area … we have a lot of residential in parts of it.”