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Board seals deal on Seal property

The Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen appropriated money to purchase the Seal property, 901 McFee Road, after receiving a geotechnical study of the site at its meeting Dec. 11.

The study included boring 26 15-foot deep holes throughout the property, checking the condition of the soil and confirming the absence or presence of sinkholes.

The study found the soil “had fair to poor compaction characteristics,” meaning it would not be exceptional as backfill material beneath buildings or paved areas. If a community center or other building were to be built on the site, the soil would need to be stripped and compacted.

Alderman Tom Rosseel asked Town Engineer Darryl Smith if this was typical of land in East Tennessee. Smith answered in the affirmative, adding the Town Hall site also required undercutting.

“It would be ideal for ballfields,” Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III said of the Seal property.

“Unless, of course, the ball goes down the sinkhole they found,” Vice Mayor J. Michael Haynes said, referring to a bore at the southwest corner of the Seal property that revealed deep silt that could be a filled sinkhole.

According to Ralph Dimmick, property owner of land that lies between the Seal property and McFee Park, the suspected sinkhole fills with water after heavy rains, covering Dimmick’s driveway.

“I’ve had to take a boat to get back and forth to McFee Road,” Dimmick said.

“There is a sinkhole right there. You can go out there and stand there and look at it,” he added.

“If the idea is to do anything other than ball fields, this raises questions about purchasing the property,” Haynes said, adding a community center would be illogical so far from the center of Town.

“I don’t disagree it can be built on. It will be expensive,” he added.

Rosseel said putting a building in the far corner, where the sinkhole was found, “wouldn’t make a lot of sense.” A building could go elsewhere on the property, where there is no suspected sinkhole.

The Board first approved an amendment to the land acquisition fund in the budget to appropriate the $1.3 million purchase price of the Seal property.

“So this is clear: we actually have enough funds in our land acquisition budget … this is just adjusting the actual appropriation,” Rosseel said.

“The money is there … we’ve already transferred the money to that fund,” Town Administrator Dan Olson said.

Haynes said “ultimately” the Town was spending savings.

“I think it is unwise to essentially spend our savings on purchasing when you don’t have to in this climate,” Haynes said.

“I will note this does not use up all our reserves; we did budget for it, we just didn’t do the appropriation,” Rosseel said.

Haynes said $1.3 million may have been budgeted, but money to purchase Dimmick’s property (which he has offered to the Town and which would be necessary to connect McFee Park and the Seal property) would put the cost above $2 million.

“This isn’t really about buying one piece [of land]. There’s land that lies between this piece [Seal property] and McFee Park,” Haynes said.

“I think it’s appropriate to look at the Dimmick property after we close on the Seal property,” Rosseel said, adding he would like to have a public hearing and have any purchase regarding the Dimmick property go before Farragut Municipal Planning Commission.

Alderman John Williams said he was not prepared to discuss the Dimmick property.

“I have been fully supportive of expanding McFee Park … we’ve already made the decision to buy it, and I think it’s time to make the appropriation and proceed to do so,” Williams said.

The appropriation of $1.3 million for the Seal property passed, with Haynes dissenting.

Because the appropriation required a budget amendment, the proposal must be read twice. The second reading was Tuesday, Dec. 16.


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