City leaders respond to Dumplin Creek renewal

6:34 PM, Mar 15, 2013   |    comments
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Dumplin Creek has stayed empty for almost 5 years.

Sevierville city leaders are reacting to the news that plans may move forward for Dumplin Creek.

It has been more than five years since John Turley, the creator behind Turkey Creek, presented the idea.

Since then, it has remained empty.

Now, Neyland Land Associates, run by father-and-son Joe Fielden and Joe Fielden Jr., has reached a preliminary agreement to purchase the land.

The 200 acre development near I-40 Exit 407 is expected to bring shopping, hotels, restaurants, and possibly a theater.

"We've kept our eyes open, our ears open, and now we're going to have to open up our pocket books possibly," said Bryan Atchley, mayor of Sevierville.

The plan includes road projects.

The state would have to approve $4 million in grant money, while the city would need to match those funds.

"We need another access into this tourism area," Mayor Atchley said.

A new exit, Exit 408, would serve as a second entry point into Dumplin Creek.

There are also plans to widen Bryan Road over to Douglas Dam Road, then widen Douglas Dam Road to State Route 66.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Spokesperson Mark Nagi said an Exit 408 interchange would not be considered until Exit 407 improvements are completed.

"An Exit 408 interchange was considered when planning was being done for improvements to the Exit 407 interchange. We need to wait until the Exit 407 improvements are completed and evaluate its operation to determine what additional measures may be needed, if any. TDOT will look into an interchange at Exit 408 in the future," Nagi said, in a statement through email.

Right now, everything is still in the talking stages.

"Sometimes it can get frustrating for people in town... 'I was expecting that. I was looking forward to it.' So we're just very interested to see how it's all going to play out," said Amanda Marr, marketing director for Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

Marr said development in Sevierville slowed down when the economy did, but it is picking back up.

Mayor Atchley went on to say, "When you take a look at the money that's already been spent out there, the great work that's been done, you would almost have to think that if all parties can sit down and agree on each individual road, then yeah, I think it's a possibility."

No city money has been used so far to fund Dumplin Creek.

City leaders will discuss proposed road plans during a workshop on Monday, March 18.

It will take place at the Civic Center in Sevierville at 4:30 p.m.

The workshop is open to the public.

If the city and state approve plans, a Dumplin Creek spokesperson said site preparations and road work could begin this fall.

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