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Marina plans

Supra and Moomba boat owners' reunion on Melton Lake

Earlier this week the local newspapers reported (here and here) that the city had received two proposals for redevelopment at Oak Ridge’s marina site at Melton Lake park. People are talking and wondering about what might happen.

Count me among the many residents who see unfulfilled potential at the marina, but worry that redevelopment — particularly redevelopment with a commercial focus — could get in the way of the public’s enjoyment of this area.

In my opinion, some parts of the marina area (mostly the area around the boat basin) have become run-down and do not make the best possible use of the site. Therefore, I see merit in the notion of considering some sort of “redevelopment,” but obviously redevelopment could take many forms.

The City’s request for proposals sought conceptual proposals, with the expectation that staff would review them and ask City Council for authorization to negotiate with the submitter of the most attractive proposal. I think we were hoping for more than two proposals, but the two submissions give an indication of what’s possible and should offer some real choices…

So far, I’ve seen just one of the proposals (the one from local landowner/developer R&R Properties, headed by Rick Chinn). City staff have said the other one would also be provided to Council members; I just haven’t seen it yet.

The R&R proposal presents a vision for the future of the lakefront that I think most residents would find attractive. Among other things, it includes lakefront entertainment venues, covered boat storage (at a proposed rental fee of $250/month), additional pedestrian/bike trail access next to the water, and new condos and other development on property that R&R owns adjacent to the Flatwater Grill. It definitely would not restrict public access to the area, but it would change the nature of the lakefront.

The City will have to make decisions on the physical changes proposed, as well as on the financial aspects (which I think are likely to be more difficult to evaluate than the physical changes).

Staff projects that Council will see a recommendation in November. Between now and then, it would be helpful to hear about what it is people want and don’t want to see at the lakefront. For example, if you have kept a boat at the existing boat basin or if you would like to keep a boat there in the future, what are you looking for in a boat slip? How would you react to a $250 monthly rental for covered storage?

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5 Comments

  1. Ray Kircher says:

    Melton Lake Park has no potential for a marina. As a traveler of this section of the Clinch River, what is needed there is pretty much already installed and maintained by the taxpayers. The old buildings can be removed as the boats have been, and the city can look at a real marina that can return more proposals by building it at Solway Park. There are many residents along the Clinch River that would appreciate a large covered Storage area and enough water area for boat slips, docks, and pumps there.

    Building a marina at Melton Lake Park must be seriously looked at as an investment, and looking at what is already on the Clinch River, we are not trying to serve our area with a serious water venue and service, rather this is serving just a few people. This park needs to remain a park. It serves the people well.

    Next is how much is Rick asking the city to chip in on his new venture? I do not believe Rick is a marina developer or operator. Just because he gets a TIF for a restaurant doesn’t mean he can handle one. Basically he has asked the city taxpayers to cover his risk of a start up, and seeing what he has done in the food service industry, I would keep him far away from a marina.

    This city needs a professional to pull this off, and Rick as no background in waterfronts.

  2. Ellen Smith says:

    The water may be too cool for swimming (and too cool for most water-skiers preferences) at the Melton Lake Park site, but not everyone is looking for the same thing in a marina.

    Case in point: Charlie Hensley reports that this past weekend he ran across a the Knoxville Watersports Group’s holding reunion of Supra and Moomba boat owners at our waterfront. He says “I asked why they chose our lakefront. The answer was that this is the best and most beautiful place around and they appreciated the flat water, straight course, convenient ramp, and opportunities for spectators.”

  3. Ray Kircher says:

    But will that take care of the debt? I suspect the reason why only two proposals came for that idea is that just showcasing boats might be nice, but isn’t incentive to risk a business there. Case in point, it is nice as a park, not a marina.

  4. Ellen Smith says:

    Nobody has made any commitment to actually do anything at the Melton Lake site. Proposals were requested, two were submitted, and they are being reviewed.

  5. Ray Kircher says:

    Why couldn’t proposals be taken for a marina at Solway Park?

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