Gatlinburg may commit $3.7 million to Arrowmont

Sep. 17, 2013 @ 11:22 AM

The City Commission could approve the issue of $3.7 million in bond funds tonight as part of the ongoing negotiations to keep the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts downtown, but Mayor Jerry Hays cautioned the measure doesn’t mean a deal has been finalized.

Arrowmont’s campus is owned by the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, and that organization has been in negotiations for some time to sell the land to developer Bob Bentz.

Bentz has indicated he has new plans for the property, but supporters of Arrowmont have urged him to keep at least some of the campus there, and city and county officials have joined negotiations to keep some of the historic buildings downtown.

The parties have agreed to mediation sessions presided over by Knoxville attorney Pamela Reeves, and in August they had a closed-door gathering. Officials have been quiet about the results of the mediation, but the bond issue and the county school board’s recent decision to swap adjacent property with Bentz hint at the outlines of a possible deal to keep part of the campus downtown.

“We’ve been telling them all along we’d come with about $3.5 million,” Mayor Jerry Hays said Monday.

He cautioned that any agreement remains tentative; the parties are set to meet again for another session in January.

“The ball’s in the developer’s court right now because he has the rights to the whole property, so it’s got to be something he’s comfortable with,” Hays said. “To this point I think he’s on board with the things we’ve suggested.”

The commission meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the city council room of city hall.

Other items the commission will consider include:

  • Second reading of amendments to the storm water ordinance
  • Second reading of the tax rate, which will remain stable
  • Second reading of amendments to the city’s occupational safety and health program
  • Contract for services with Helen Ross McNabb Center
  • Certificates of good moral character for Nicholas Taylor Ogle and Jacob Lonas Ogle, doing business as Sugarland Cellars Inc. at 1133 Parkway
  • Change order and amendment to engineering services agreement for construction of a new equalization basin at the wastewater treatment plant
  • Engineering services agreement with McGill Associates on the Newman Road lift station rehabilitation project
  • First reading of an ordinance to amend the distance requirement between a school and establishment seeking certificate of compliance in C-1 commercial zones
  • Resolution adopting the state of Tennessee 457 (b) deferred compensation plan and trust and approving the employer agreement
  • Contract for security services at the convention center with Red Hawk Security
  • Beverage agreement with Coca-Cola
  • License agreement with BS&J Enterprises for the placement of a Winterfest display at intersection of Glades Road and Highway 321

n jfarrell@themountainpress.com