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BOMA OK’s Dimmick land purchase

After more than two years of discussions, Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen bought Christmas tree farmer Ralph Dimmick’s property off McFee Road for $500,000.

The Dimmick property separates McFee Park from the Seal property, another parcel the Town bought in 2008 for about $1.25 million. The three parcels together increase McFee Park’s size to 52.5 acres.

“This is a long-term investment for the Town,” Town Administrator David Smoak said.

The $500,000 price tag for the property is down 20 percent from Dimmick’s last asking price, but even so, it cleans out the Town’s entire land acquisition budget for this fiscal year.

“At this time, this would be the best use [of that money] for the Town,” Smoak said.

Town Parks and Leisure Services Director Sue Stuhl said the addition of the Dimmick Property allows more room for the construction of an amphitheatre at McFee.

“We want it to be large and powerful enough for symphonies, bands … small plays, movies in the park,” Stuhl said of the amphitheatre.

“We want it to be the center of a festival area.

“The addition of this land would help this a lot,” she added.

The amphitheatre will be located in a natural “bowl” in land on the Town’s already-developed McFee Park parcel. But that bowl extends somewhat onto Dimmick’s property.

Now that the Town owns Dimmick’s land, the amphitheatre plans can be expanded to include that property.

Under the land purchase agreement, Dimmick will be allowed to live in his house on the property until June of next year, and can harvest his Christmas trees this year.

If he chooses to stay in the 3,100 square-foot home past June 30, 2011, he’ll pay $100 a day in rent to the Town.

Once Dimmick vacates the home, Smoak said, “We can use that for storage … or in the future, for offices.”

Alderman Bob Markli said he would expect the Town to look at some revenue producing use for the home once it is vacated, perhaps by renting it.

“A property sitting vacant like that is an invitation for vandalism,” he said.

Stuhl pointed out the Town spends about $3,000 a year on storage for Farragut Folklife Museum, and that those artifacts could be moved to the Dimmick house, saving that yearly expenditure.

Alderman Jeff Elliott moved to approve the purchase; Markli seconded. The motion was approved with Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche abstaining.


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