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McGill to propose ‘shelving’ historic lighting plans

A number of Farragut residents spoke in opposition to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s proposed historic lighting project along Campbell Station Road during the Board’s meeting Thursday, Jan. 12.

“I’d recommend you gather up the papers and shred them and not think about this for another 30 years,” said Bob Hill, a Belleaire resident and former Farragut planning commissioner.

“I personally have not spoken to a single person who lived in Farragut who was not opposed to this idea. It has no friends,” he added.

Mayor Ralph McGill addressed the residents before each spoke during Citizen’s Forum.

“Before we ask you to speak, let me tell you that first of all, we’re not voting on anything tonight. But I’m going to propose we consider shelving the project at our next meeting,” he said.

Cas Kramer, Concord Hills homeowners’ association president, said of the lights, “We feel it is unwise and fiscally unsound.”

At a previous public Board meeting, Town engineer Darryl Smith estimated replacing streetlights from Kingston Pike to Parkside Drive could cost between $630,000 to $680,000.

“We feel there are probably more worthy projects that need to be addressed in Farragut,” Kramer said.

“Hopefully you can find a better use for that money,” said Jerry Taylor, also of Concord Hills.

McGill pointed out the lighting idea was part of the Board’s strategic plan, which lays out long-term goals for Farragut’s Board and employees.

“I guess I’m frustrated because I wonder, should we throw the whole strategic plan out or are we going to get pushed back on every element or what? I just don’t know,” McGill said.

“I think we have a bit of a disconnect between what we’re planning and what our citizens understand. We’ve got to fix that,” he added.

Denny Wren, an Andover resident, thought the confusion among citizens could come through reading “presstalk” in farragutpress.

“I don’t know what to believe in this paper. ... But people read this paper, they believe it’s the gospel,” Wren said. He read in a “presstalk” comment that the lights were brand new, but was told by McGill and Town administrator David Smoak the lights were old.

Presstalk comments are anonymous calls or e-mails from residents, printed by farragutpress.

In a telephone interview, Smith said he’s not sure how old most of the lights are. Between two and four poles — lights and all — were installed new when Campbell Station was widened in 2010. The other poles were taken down before the roadwork and then reinstalled. But Smith said the poles could have new fixtures originally intended for lighting on Turkey Creek Road.

If the fixtures are old, they likely were installed in 1998. If they’re new, they’re one or two years old.

Wren said, no matter how old the lights are, he still disagreed with the idea of historic lighting.

The “hub” intersection of Campbell Station and Kingston Pike has too many vacant buildings and no major entertainment draw, he said. People driving down Campbell Station, more often than not, are going to Turkey Creek.

“We’re beautifying a street ... for people to spend their money over in Knox County,” he said.

Wren advised the Board to work on getting Farragut’s commercial real estate “up to par.”

But Carol Conklin of Village Green said development was what would prevent Farragut from ever having a historic look.

“We’re not going to be able to make a historic, quaint looking community out of Farragut, Tennessee. It’s already gone [so] far in the development aspect with businesses and so forth that there’s not going to be a main street look in Farragut,” Conklin said.


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