Prime real estate
Through a sales contract between the city of Gatlinburg and the Walters State Community College Foundation, 6.57 acres of land that were previously owned by Wilma Maples will be converted into parking lots for the city’s forthcoming youth sports complex.
The Gatlinburg City Commission were set to approve the city’s $1-million purchase of the property, which includes Maples’ former residence and the surrounding land, at its meeting Tuesday night.
J.B. Pectol, executive director of public information for Walters State Community College, said Maples, who passed away December of last year, willed the property to the college foundation.
According to Pectol, there were no stipulations in Maples’ will concerning the use of this property, “just that the residual from her estate be used to establish three scholarships for Sevier County students.”
Proceeds from this sale will go towards establishing the Rellie L. Maples and Wilma Maples Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, which will provide scholarships for students attending the Walters State campus in Sevier County.
Maples, described by Pectol as “a major supporter of the development of the Walters State Sevier County campus,” also willed $200,000 to the school to establish two additional endowed scholarships for students attending the Sevier County campus.
Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner said the city had already acquired around 10 acres of land adjacent to this property, which was part of the city’s original plan for the sports complex.
“We knew we needed to purchase the 10 acres, and now everything’s falling into place,” he said. “The city has supported Walters State in the past, and I’m grateful they’re working with us on this.”
Werner said the house and the hill it sits on will be leveled and turned into fields and parking lots.
“It’s going to be a lot of field and parking that’s needed,” Werner said. “We’re reconfiguring a lot of that area out there to compensate for parking for eight fields and six indoor courts, the community center and the other gyms.”
The property assessor’s office valued the house and land at $848,300 total — $601,500 for the house alone. The city paid a flat $1 million for the entire property.
“It’s a good deal with Walters State. It’s good for them and good for us,” Werner said. “The money we’re purchasing the land with will stay in Sevier County with Walters State.”
The college opened the first building on the Sevier County campus in 2000. It was named Maples-Marshall Hall in honor of Maples and her husband, and Reese Marshall Ripatti of Sevierville.
Walters State’s culinary arts program, the Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts, is named in honor of Maples’ late husband, a former Gatlinburg restaurateur and businessman. The Mountain Rose dining room inside the facility is named after Wilma Maples.
According to Pectol, Maples also supported major projects to beautify the grounds of Walters State Community College.