At the Sept. 14, 2020 Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board had voted to defer for one more meeting the purchase of the Lyons Property, which they had been viewing and negotiating on for quite a while.
The Parks and Recreation Department had been looking for new park land for years, and had entered into negotiations with the Lyons Family to purchase their 21 acres of land along Rutland Road to convert into park land. This property contained a house, which would require renovations, and a 6-acre pond.
Parks Director Rocky Lee asked the Board of Commissioners to defer the vote on purchasing this property for another meeting, as he was receiving other property offers, and wanted to assemble these and present them to the Board.
However, when the Sept. 28 meeting rolled around, Rocky Lee informed the Board of Commissioners that the Lyons Family had since pulled their property off the market.
In lieu of the Lyons Property, Lee and the Parks and Recreation Department presented five new properties to the Board of Commissioners.
The Parks and Recreation Department’s first choice is the McFarland Property, 47 acres of almost completely flat land near Clearview Valley. This property is being offered to the city for $2.3 million, the same price that the 21-acre Lyons Property was previously offered for.
The city had actually looked at the McFarland Property a decade ago, in 2010. The Parks and Recreation Department presented an old rendering of the planned land usage from then, which included a sports complex with baseball, softball, soccer, and football fields.
The McFarland Property was passed up by the city in 2010 due to a sizeable amount of the property being floodplains, an issue which still concerns the Board of Commissioners. Although this property could be landscaped to bring it out of floodplains, it would cost additional millions of dollars out of the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget.
The second option presented to the Board was the Tomlinson Property, 47 acres of hills and valleys on the north side of Mt. Juliet. This property is being offered to the city for an astoundingly low rate of $16,000 per acre, which Lee stressed was an extremely generous offer compared to the price per acre of any other property in the area. With other costs, this brings the price of purchase to only $930,000.The issue with the Tomlinson Property is, in the eyes of the Parks and Recreation Department, that the terrain of the property will only allow for it to contain walking and nature trails. The hills and valleys that dominate the area are not ideal for sports fields or other attractions that require wide spaces or flat land.
The third option was the Bradley Barn Property, 62 acres which includes the famous and still-active Bradley Barn recording studio, where many country music stars have recorded over the years. This property was one of the more expensive options at $2.7 million.
Part of the Parks and Recreation Department’s plan for the property, if it were to be purchased, would be to convert the recording studio into a museum and a historical landmark. The land could also house an amphitheatre for hosting public music events.
The fourth option was the Hayes Property, 35 acres on the south side of Mt. Juliet being offered for the same price as the Lyons and McFarland Properties, $2.3 million. This property is relatively unattractive to the Parks and Recreation Department because, unlike the other options, it has utilities such as power and gas lines in place, which increases the development costs following purchase due to their removal. The plans for this property would be walking trails and open green space.
Finally, the Parks and Recreation Department presented a brand new property, the Hollis-Hassett Property, 63 acres of land adjacent to the McFarland Property. This was the most expensive option at $3.0 million.
The Hollis-Hassett Property contains a variety of terrain ideal for housing a variety of park amenities. It has woods as well as flat open fields, and unlike the McFarland Property, none of it sits on floodplains. The Parks and Recreation Department showed plans for this property that included ball fields and a community center, as well as 35-40 acres of walking trails. This land also saves money on infrastructure development, as it already has electricity, water, and sewer systems in place.
Lee ended his presentation by stressing that budget was an important consideration. The Tomlinson Property, being so cheap, could be developed immediately, but many of the other options would drain the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget and would have to wait a while before being developed. Lee stated that the budget currently sits at $6.7 million, part of which will have to be spent purchasing whichever property is decided on, and the remainder of which will be dedicated to developing that property.
The Parks and Recreation Department and the Board of Commissioners expressed desire to build a park with attractions for citizens of all age ranges, similar to the existing Charlie Daniels Park, which is currently the largest park in the city at 26 acres. Several options were discussed, including purchasing the McFarland Property and moving the football fields from Mundy Park to the new park so as to renovate the space at Mundy Park into other usage, and purchasing both the McFarland Property and the Hollis-Hassett Property and combining them into a 110-acre park.
After much deliberation, the Board of Commissioners voted to enter pricing negotiations on the Hollis-Hassett Property alone.