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YMCA continues land search

A new location for the Farragut YMCA remains undecided.

“Our lease is up, we are on extension,” Vickey Beard, executive director of the Farragut YMCA branch, said.

Beard said that Schaad Properties, owners of the building at 10709 Kingston Pike, have promised a six-month notice in the event that YMCA needs to vacate the premises.

“That is a verbal promise,” Beard said. “We are working on a written agreement but we have been unable to get that, which makes us a little nervous.”

YMCA recently terminated a project that would build the new facility at Concord Park. Ownership of the property was transferred from the Tennessee Valley Authority to Knox County in 1949, along with an agreement that stated the property would only be used for recreational purposes. TVA has determined that YMCA is a commercial entity.

Since the project’s termination, the community has become involved in the search for the new location.

Jim Dickson, president and CEO of YMCA, said, “I have been one of the most popular people in Knoxville, I think, with developers calling with all kinds of ideas of where our Y ought to go.”

Ideas are not the only contributions that are being offered. Doug Horne, local developer and owner of farragutpress, has offered a monetary contribution if the project remains in the town of Farragut.

“We were disappointed T-V-A decided against allowing [YMCA] to build in Concord Park,” Horne said in a telephone interview. “Concord Park would have been a wonderful place for it. People go there to play golf, boat and relax — it was a good place place for [the YMCA].

“I’ve told Jim Dickson that the Horne family would make a donation to YMCA if it were built in the [the Town]. … I’ve suggested a piece of property that we have just west of the old Ott’s Barbecue for him to look at and consider as perhaps a site for the facility.”

Horne added that the property could be used as an in-kind donation to YMCA from the Horne family.

Dickson said that The University of Tennessee women’s basketball head coach, Pat Summitt, also is “heavily involved” in YMCA’s Capital Campaign, which is raising money for YMCA projects.

Dickson said the Capital Campaign, of which Summitt, as well as UT men’s basketball head coach Bruce Pearl, are honorary co-chairs, is part of the project to relocate the Farragut YMCA as well as “building the new YMCA at Lakeshore Park and renovating the downtown Y.”

When asked about the possibility of the facility being named for Horne and Summitt, Dickson said, “One of the ways that we recognize people for their contributions is by naming things after them. That has not been defined yet, but a gift like Mr. Horne is talking about, and the contributions of someone like coach Summitt, are certainly worthy of recognition and we are going to be looking at that.”

The YMCA Metropolitan Board has also been looking at land in Hardin Valley.

Beard said, “Here is the bottom line on Hardin Valley, we have [the significant pledge by Horne] toward our facility in Farragut, we do not have that pledge for Hardin Valley. Right now, if you had to weigh the two, their focus is more on Farragut than Hardin Valley.”

Beard said if the YMCA were forced to find a location outside Farragut it would be “devastating to the community. People are concerned.”

Plans for the new facility include an on-site pool, Beard said, “and that would be a significant advantage for the families and children in this area.”

Stephanie Johnson, a YMCA member said, “I use the gym at the Y to unwind. I am a college student and that is how I get through my 18-hour class load.”

Johnson added, “The Y works well for college students. It is affordable and it’s practical, as opposed to The Rush, where I would have to sign a three-year contract. If the Y were to leave Farragut, it would be hard to find another place that offered the same amenities in a comparable price range. That is important to students.”


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