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Proposals for marina and lakefront

People are talking about the Melton Hill Lake waterfront and proposed marina redevelopment. As I noted earlier, there’s a public meeting about the marina next Wednesday evening (October 29). For those who haven’t seen it in print, the Oak Ridge Observer put the highlights of the R&R proposal on the web in a convenient format.

There are things to like about the R&R proposal (I particularly like the roundabout proposed to calm traffic and add aesthetic value at the intersection of Emory Valley Road and Melton Lake Drive), but jaws are dropping over the prospective developer’s request for 99-year rent-free lease. That’s something I can’t possibly support. Also, I’ve heard from people who have specific objections to some of the building that R&R is proposing. I assume that this far-reaching proposal was put forth not as a realiistic proposal, but rather as a starting point for discussion and negotiation.

The other proposal — from an experienced marina operator — was a modest one for installation of new boat docks in the boat basin. I have a hunch that the experienced marina operator has a pretty good idea what the market will truly support.

I expect some lively public discussion on this!



  1. rhonda bogard says:

    I was not able to attend the public meeting but I would like to express my opinion on the proposed development at the marina. I believe we need to build on what is working- and that is rowing. We do not need a marina for motorized boating in this area. What we could use is the encouragement of canoeing and similar activities for families- add rental equipment so that we can enjoy the scenery from the water. Let’s not ruin a perfectly beautiful waterfront area, just get rid of the rundown marina, and encourage and enhance what we already have. I hate to see the Chinese Restaurant run out of the area and it definitely does not need more condos or housing. Let’s leave it for the public to enjoy.

  2. Robert Cooper says:

    Ms. Smith:

    I am a fifth grade teacher at JMS. I teach one section of English, and the topic for the next week or two is to learn to write a persuasive letter.
    I have asked the students to look at the Marina project proposal and to think about what they believe might be best for Oak Ridge. I’ve told them that I will take no sides or opin what I think they should say. However, in so doing, I find it necessary to get as much information about the project as possible to help the students focus on pros and cons of any marina project. I’d be interested in what you beleive any future improvements must have to gain your support. Thank you.

    R. Cooper

  3. Ellen Smith says:

    That sounds like a great idea for a writing assignment for JMS 5th graders. I bet most of them are very familiar with the marina and have ideas.

    My primary concerns about the proposal relate to process and money, which are not likely to particularly interest 5th graders. However, for a grown-up audience, I’ve added a blog post with some thoughts on that topic.

    Things that 5th graders might want to think about include:
    * Should the marina have slips for powerboats? Most of the people I’ve talked with say “No,” because they believe that powerboats would interfere with rowing, kayaking, and other nonmotorized boating. For example, they say that boat wakes from speedboats could swamp the small lightweight boats that rowers practice. Also, I’ve been told that the part of the lake near the marina is not the type of area where most powerboaters want to be.
    * Should jetskis be allowed at this park? Most people I’ve talked with say “no” (see above).
    * If the boat basin at the marina isn’t used for powerboat docks, what should go in there instead?
    * Many people say that traffic goes too fast on Melton Lake Drive. Some have suggested that the speed limit should be lower. Other people are worried that slowing traffic down would make it harder for people to get around town. To help slow traffic, the R&R proposal for the marina includes a roundabout at the intersection of Melton Lake Drive and Emory Valley Road (where there is a stop sign now). I think that a roundabout is a great idea — I think it would slow traffic down, improve safety for walkers, and make the intersection more attractive. It would almost become part of the park. At the public meeting, some people suggested that roundabouts should be built at some of the other intersections on Melton Lake Drive. (Kids probably aren’t familiar with roundabouts, but after looking at pictures they might have some opinions.)
    * Should there be commercial businesses in the park? If so, what kinds? Businesses are being proposed as a way to make money to pay for other improvements, such as a new boathouse for the rowers and that proposed roundabout. Also, businesses such as restaurants, ice cream stands, and bike-rental kiosks could help people have fun at the park. However, people are concerned that additional businesses would attract even more traffic. Also, people worry that putting businesses in the park would take away some of the public park space or block views of the lake.
    *Should parking be concentrated in one large parking lot, or should there be smaller parking areas scattered around (the way it is now)? Should there be a parking area somewhere away from Melton Lake Drive, and shuttle buses to the park?
    *Should the playground equipment be moved to a different part of the park? Would it be good to add a volleyball court? (These changes are both in the R&R plan.) What other types of recreation should be available?

    I don’t have opinions on all of these topics yet. However, I have been convinced that a commercial boat dock is not a good idea for this park. Also, I like the idea of a roundabout. As for commercial businesses, I think that restaurants, bike rental kiosks, canoe/kayak rentals, and similar businesses could be good things to have at the marina, but I don’t want to take away public control of the park.

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