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Rosseel challenges for Rutenber seat

Thomas Rosseel is one of two men vying for a spot on the five-person Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen as alderman, Ward I, in the upcoming April 5 municipal election; early voting beings Wednesday, March 16, at Farragut Town Hall.

Like his opponent Ron Honken, Rosseel has served the town in various ways over the last few years. Rosseel is a former member of the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, appointed by Mayor Eddy Ford in 1998 and subsequently re-appointed for two additional two-year terms.

A resident of Knox County since 1981, Rosseel and wife, Cathy, have lived in Farragut since 1983, first in Stonecrest Subdivision and then in Country Manor Subdivision where the couple, along with their son, David, a rising freshman at Farragut High School, currently reside.

It was as a Stonecrest homeowner that Rosseel became involved in the Concerned Citizens of Stonecrest and Powell Acres, a joint homeowners’ effort.

Rosseel is beginning his 10th year as chairman of the group, which was created in time to help influence developments at Turkey Creek and the effect on those residents.

“We were faced with something very dramatic. We had three hundred-fifty to four hundred acres that were gonna be developed in our backyard,” he said.

While on the FMPC, Rosseel said he developed a “strong understanding of land use planning, zoning issues, plat approvals, road needs, capital improvement issues and community development needs.”

He said he was able to use that knowledge in negotiations with the Knoxville Utilities Board, Lenoir City Utilities Board and Turkey Creek Land Partners resulting in the removal and transfer of a power line from Stonecrest to the development; the installation of a half-mile stockade privacy fence; the creation of restricted zones adjacent to the Knoxville/Farragut buffer and a 100-foot buffer zone separating Baptist West Hospital from the subdivisions.

“I’ve got to give credit to the developers, they certainly have tried to interact with the homeowners,” he said. “We wanted the developers to recognize they’re a really big neighbor, we’re a lot of little neighbors.”

Rosseel said the same sort of “win-win” could work for some of what he proposes are issues facing Farragut, such as the need for a new primary (kindergarten through sixth grade) school.

“We don’t operate the Knox County library system but we did something smart, we worked with the county to get them to put the library there.” As for a new school, Rosseel said, “I think we should either buy land in the southwest sector,” or “offer the [Board of Education] the land already purchased for the future McFee Road Park.”

He added, “I don’t think anybody in the town wants to go through the same issues that we’re going through right now with the high school. … If the county doesn’t accept our offer within five years, the land could be used for the park or sold to recover our investment. … Land is a commodity. It’s not something we have to do, but libraries and schools impact the quality of life in the town. … We’re not gonna have good quality schools if there’s no place to put [the students].”

Concerning potential cost, Rosseel said, “We might actually have to have some debt” and likened Farragut to a family that’s growing. “The town,” he said, “is twenty-five years old.” At that age, families don’t pay cash for a new home, “they take out a mortgage. You don’t want to max out your credit cards but if you have the sort of debt that’s an investment in the future of the town, like land for a school, I think that’s reasonable.” And something needs to be done soon, Rosseel added.

“I think the [land] options are just gonna evaporate, that’s one of the problems with the high school, [the Board of Education] waited too long.”

Rosseel is concerned with Farragut’s traffic safety and suggests adding signals, especially along Grigsby Chapel Road. “We should consider it now rather than when traffic is really high.” Certain roads, including Union and Smith need to be improved, he added. “We have some roads that are clearly substandard.”

Rosseel would like to see streetlights installed on some town roads including Virtue, Grigsby Chapel and Turkey Creek. “I think it would make them safer at night,” he said.

He also suggests working with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department to increase patrols. “Maybe we can buy a patrol car, or buy some radar guns,” he said. “The town is vested in this, we want to work with the sheriff’s department to show them that we would like to have additional patrols through our subdivisions.”

Rosseel suggests streamlining the town’s traffic calming procedures approved while he was a FMPC member. “My sense is that it doesn’t work well right now,” he said. Drainage issues should also be re-evaluated. “With continued growth, he asked, “do we need to consider more advanced drainage systems?”

Rosseel hopes to see a stronger business community in the town, increasing its tax base.

He suggests developing a strategy “to help new businesses locate or existing businesses to grow,” while “maintaining our town’s standards” and to “actively encourage patronization of Farragut businesses through community events.”

Likewise, with Town Hall often booked, Rosseel stressed the need for a community center.

Much of what Rosseel suggests are not his ideas, he acknowledged, but rather proposals he’s studied from others, many of which would take years to implement. Rosseel wants to be a part of that.

“I’m very results-oriented. … I feel like I can make a contribution. … I’ve demonstrated leadership,” he said. “I have the ability to work with a variety of people. I’ve worked with developers. I’ve worked with homeowners. … You learn how to compromise. I like to say, ‘if we have a problem, let’s find solutions. If you don’t like my idea, fine, let’s go with your idea, but let’s try and solve the problem. That’s the way I like to approach things.”

It’s the same approach as in Rosseel’s career as a program and project manager at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he’s been employed since 1981. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a doctorate in chemistry.

“Part of my job is to plan, we write proposals and plan for two to three years down the road … part of my job is to make sure we bring in the right amount of money.”


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