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BOMA retreat talks center on Town identity
Community center discussed as cultural hub


SEVIERVILLE — “It’s pretty exciting to ask what we want to be when we grow up,” Municipal Technical Advisory Service representative Melanie Purcell said at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s retreat, Saturday, Aug. 15.

The Board focused on goals and visions for Farragut in the next five to 10 years, talking about opportunities and challenges, and values that should be preserved.


One of the most important challenges facing the Town, Alderman John Williams said, is separating Farragut from surrounding communities and giving it an identity of its own.

“I’d like to see the Town have its own identity … the Town has no identity outside schools, besides being a bedroom community,” Williams said.

Identity could start with simply educating citizens on where Farragut begins and ends, and what is in Farragut and what is not.

“If people aren’t connected to schools or sports teams, they have no idea where Farragut is,” Williams said.

“We need a brand,” Mayor Ralph McGill said.

Alderman Jeff Elliott called Hardin Valley and Lenoir City the two 800-pound gorillas on either side of Farragut, quickly becoming competition both residentially and commercially.

“It’s just a matter of time before Hardin Valley becomes a serious competitor,” Williams said.

“Farragut has to have a unique identity to remain competitive … otherwise, we’re just going to become a West Knox [County] residential community,” he added.

Identity, the Board discussed, also could involve establishing the “flavor” of the local business community, and solving problems plaguing the Town.

“You don’t want your identity to be traffic and drainage issues,” Purcell said.

Williams discussed even referring to Farragut as “Town of Farragut,” with the homier connotations of the word “town.”

When the Town was founded in 1980, part of Farragut’s original identity was its strict aesthetic codes, which largely separated development in Knox County and Knoxville from Farragut’s.

But now, Williams said, areas such as Choto and Hardin Valley are nearly indistinguishable from Farragut.

“We need to make Farragut stand out more in Knox County from the other developments as well as the other government entities,” Williams said.

One large, and currently missing, aspect of a Town’s identity is a community center, not specifically referring to a building, but to a cultural hub.

McGill said the Town needed to develop a destination and ways to get to it, but that destination could be a variety, or combination, of places.

It could be an actual community center facility, a connecter such as the San Antonio River Walk, a “downtown” development, or a combination of developments and connectors.

“If we can turn that around, I think a whole lot will happen by itself,” Alderman Bob Markli said.

The final obstacle to establishing a Town identity, Elliott said, is educating Farragut’s transient population on what the Town is and what it does.

The opportunity to “rebrand” Farragut, Williams said, is now, while there is still some room for build-out in Town limits.

“I think the town of Farragut can be so much more than it is, distinct from the rest of Knox County,” he said.

 

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