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Talks begin on return of Adm. Farragut birthplace marker

Negotiations are underway to bring back to Knox County the historic marker once located at Adm. James David Glasgow Farragut’s presumed birthplace off Northshore Drive.

And a former Farragut alderman is leading that charge.

“Nothing is really final right now. But the County and Mayor Tim Burchett have indicated the County would like to put the marker in a place that is accessible to the public and [property owner Lylan Fitzgerald] has agreed to consider that,” Tom Rosseel said.

“There are ongoing discussions,” he added.

After a long and sometimes contentious public battle with citizen activists over public access to the monument, Fitzgerald reportedly removed the marker and sent it to a friend in Texas. It is unknown if the marker — which was created and installed in 1900 by Bonny Kate Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution — is still DAR property or was Fitzgerald’s.

Based on previous statements by Fitzgerald, what is clear is only Fitzgerald knows where the monument is.

“I specifically asked not to be told where it was,” Rosseel said.

According to Rosseel, Fitzger-ald is interested in three main options when it comes to returning the monument to a public venue: installing it on Knox County park property across a waterway from Farragut’s birthplace, placing it in Farragut — perhaps at the Admiral Farragut Plaza, and placing it in a museum.

The marker likely would be donated.

“The primary thing Lylan was interested in was that she wanted to maintain her privacy and was concerned about her personal property. And the other thing she wanted was she thought the marker should be in a place that was more publicly accessible,” Rosseel said.

“Having the marker closer to the [original] property makes the most sense,” he added.

Rosseel contacted representatives of Farragut, Knox County and the DAR. And it seems Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett jumped on the opportunity.

“The marker is obviously something that means a lot to people in the Farragut area, and I think it is important that we work to make it available to the public while also respecting individual property rights,” Burchett said.

“Government should not tell [Fitzgerald] what to do with her property. If she doesn’t want the marker or its visitors on her land, then that’s the way it should be.

“But if everything works out, the marker will probably be placed somewhere near its previous location. The truth is that it’s not exactly clear where Adm. Farragut’s birthplace originally existed, and the site may very well now be under water,” he added.

Burchett said he still had a lunch date with Fitzgerald to further iron out details, but that he hoped an agreement could be reached soon.

During the years-long debate over public access to the monument and Fitzgerald’s desire to develop the property into a subdivision, “There seemed to be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding,” Rosseel said.

“I think there were just too many different suggestions coming up and nothing was ever firmed up,” he added.

A friend of Fitzgerald’s contacted Rosseel after the friend read about Rosseel’s representation of Powell Acres residents as they negotiated with developers of the Costco site.

“Nothing is final and until you have it in a written form, you hate to say too much. But I feel very comfortable this will be resolved, maybe within a couple of weeks to a month,” Rosseel said.


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