Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Soddy-Daisy residents near Holly Park who expressed concerns over its development at a recent City Commission meeting may have nothing to worry about.
“A lot of people had some concerns and didn’t want to see the park developed anymore,” Holly Circle resident Bill Newberry said at the meeting.
Among their concerns was the number of trees to be cut down for the proposed multiuse path and expanded parking lot.
“I don’t understand quite the need for it,” he said of the path, adding that the city already has several walking tracks. “I don’t know who’s going to go over there and walk it.”
“As far as clear cutting it, there were no plans,” said City Manager Hardie Stulce, who along with commissioners assured Newberry he would change his mind when he saw the plans.
“What they’re attempting to do is make a nice place nicer,” said Commissioner Rick Nunley.
Newberry said residents are also worried about the lack of space to accommodate the number of people who would be using the park.
“The reason we picked that area was because it was so secluded,” he said.
But issues have recently arisen concerning funding for the park.
“It’s not a sure thing yet,” Stulce said.
The city received a $185,000 50/50 matching grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for phase three of Holly Park. However, the city only has nine years left on its lease of the land from TVA, and to receive the grant funds the city is required to have at least a 25-year lease.
Stulce said TVA wants to collect a $5,000 fee up front to renew the lease, and the renewal process will take around 10 months. Additional fees could range anywhere from $54,560 to $17,910 plus the initial $5,000 fee to process the lease.
“I think it’s ridiculous that we have to pay the federal government ... to use this public land,” said Stulce. “I can’t in good faith recommend to this board to write a blank check to TVA. It’s an expensive gamble.”
The grant from TDEC must be spent within two years or be lost. Stulce said the city might be better off paying for the park itself.
“I think we ought to drop [the TDEC grant] and go out on our own,” agreed Commissioner Jim Adams.