Sevierville board approves Dumplin Creek resolution

City would match $4 million in transportation grants
Apr. 01, 2013 @ 07:17 PM

The city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a resolution authorizing the submission of two Local Interstate Connector grant applications to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, effectively setting the Dumplin Creek development process in motion.

The two grants of $2 million apiece will go toward funding the proposed Dumplin Creek Boulevard, which will connect Highway 66 (Winfield Dunn Parkway) to Bryan Road, and allow for a possible future interchange at Interstate 40 and Bryan Road (Exit 408).

The road will also serve the Dumplin Creek development along I-40, so securing funds for the road is key in moving forward with the development.

If the state approves the grants and the city agrees to continue with the project, the city would have to match each grant, for a total of $4 million.

Dumplin Creek developer Neyland Land Associates has agreed to pay any cost overruns in excess of $8 million for the road.

"We may not use the grants; we may not get them," Mayor Bryan Atchley said at Monday night's meeting, which took place at the Civic Center.

"We're still not under any obligation to do this yet," Vice Mayor Devin Koester added. "We're still hammering out details."

The resolution passed unanimously, but Alderman Travis McCroskey expressed concern about the city partially funding a project that has no guarantees.

"I think there needs to be some sort of guarantee put in place by the developer ... where the city's money isn't at risk of nothing happening," said McCroskey, citing problems related to the city's Events Center. "We can't have that happen again. We've got to do a better job this time."

McCroskey acknowledged that he sits on the board with Tennessee State Bank, which has a stake in the Dumplin Creek development, but "I'm also wearing my hat for the taxpayer," he said.

"I'd just hate for us to put the city's money at risk," McCroskey said. "And God forbid we get another 2008 coming along and hit another recession like we did then. Then we've got another $4 million out with no return."

There was some discussion between McCroskey and Alderman Dale Carr, who then made a motion to add a stipulation to the next step of the process.

"If the grants are approved, then at that point in time before the city goes forward, there will be some kind of guarantee between the city of Sevierville and the developer to be brought back to another vote of the board before the city (gives up its money)," Carr said.

After the meeting, McCroskey said that if the city's money is guaranteed safe, then he's in favor of the project.

"It's a good thing then, and that's why I voted for it tonight," McCroskey said. "We want to move it along, we don't want to hold it up."

rhargett@themountainpress.com