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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Crowd of supporters and those concerned about shooting sports park turn out for city council meeting

There was a standing room only crowd at the March Crossville city council meeting in expectation of a discussion of the property transfer for the Shooting Sports Park to be located between I-40 and Albert Frye Road.

The controversy is over the city's approval last month of selling part of the acreage that the city bought over 20 years ago for use as a landfill to a non-profit organization hoping to operate a shooting sports park at the location. Some of the residents and property owners in the area were not aware of the project until recently and are concerned about the noise that the shooting will generate and the possible effect on their property values.

A large crowd attended Crossville city council meeting as they
discuss concerns by residents near the property proposed for
a shooting sports park.  Here Harold Stryker speaks on behalf
of property owners in the area of the Albert Frye Rd. property. 

There was also a large contingent of supporters of the project including young people who participate in shooting sports for several local organizations and so,me of their parents. A number of members of the board of the newly formed non-profit group and they also spoke to the council.

Public comments on the topic of the shooting sports park.

After some 45 minutes of public comments and discussion of the matter the city council approved a motion to ask the non-profit group to hold a public meeting with the property owners and area residents to share information about their plans and the operation and how it might affect the area.

The motion did not make any changes to the sales contract that calls for a closing on the sale by April 1, 2017 and likely to take place before the meeting can be held. The biggest issue seems to be that there was no notice to those in the area about what was planned for the property.

Local businessman Harold Stryker spoke first on behalf of the concerned property owners who shared petitions with the council. Said Stryker, “I want to make it very clear. We are not opposed to a shooting park.” He said their concern was the location and the effect on neighboring properties. He said he understood there could be as many as 10,000 shots filed in a single day. According to Styker, a home he and his son own is estimated to be only 600 feet from one of the proposed shooting stations.

Stryker concluded asking that the council reconsider the action on the property.

One of the members of the non-profit board, James Wattenbarger spoke saying that he had looked at a lot of locations for the park and he was not aware of an available location that would impact less citizens then the Albert Frye Rd. location. He added that some locations that had been studied would increase traffic through residential areas. Wattenbarger explained they were looking and making some changes to the plans in order to control noise from the park.

Greg Cantrell identified himself as the trustee for the Frank Brown Family trust. The trust owns between 400 and 500 acres from the Bean Pot to Albert Frye Rd. Cantrell said the trust was interested in economic development, great healthcare and education. He said that the family had donated the land for Brown Elementary School.

Cantrell said his concerns were that until last night neither he nor other family members knew anything about the project and they are very nearby property owners. In addition, he said the family had a vision for many years of what the corridor might become. Development of the family trust property could be an 80 to 100 bed assisted living facility that would be an $8 to $10 million investment that may not be compatible with a shooting park. “I'm asking you to slow down this process if you can and let us work with you as a significant property owner.

Valorie Cox is a member of the non-profit board and presented a petition with over 382 signatures in favor of the shooting park. Cox explained that in the region there were 25 counties that sought the park location and Cumberland County was selected. She said one event with 300 shooters would bring at least some 600 visitors to the county and at a spending of just $50 per person they could leave $30,000 in the county.

Following the public comments the council quickly agreed to move the item concerning the shooting park up on the agenda and began to discuss the topic.

City Council discussion on shooting sports park 

Councilman J. H. Graham moved that “the city requires the non-profit organization to have a public hearing where the property owners are identified and asked to come to a meeting within the next 30 to 60 days to identify the pros and cons of the shooting range.” Graham's motion was supported by councilman Danny Wyatt.

Mayor James Mayberry asked how the motion would affect the city's current sales contract that says the sale will be closed by April 1? City attorney Will Ridley explained that any extension of the contract would have to be agreed to by both parties.

Councilwoman Pamala Harris said she felt the park would be a good thing for the community. “I just want to be fair to all of the parties involved,” added Harris. She said the council won't make everyone happy no matter what they do but perhaps not enough due diligence was done on the deal.

Wyatt said that until the end of the year he thought the project was a joint city county project. He apologized saying he should have done more homework. “I think these people need to be given the opportunity to speak and ask questions and it should have been done a year ago,” said Wyatt.

Crossville attorney Randall Boston addressed the council. He said he was speaking as a member of the non-profit board and not as an attorney or as the county attorney. Boston said the he and a man named Kenneth Carey and not mayor Kenneth Carey and several others had worked on the project for quite some time. “I stand here before you to say that we have a contract and time is of the essence,” Boston continued, “and there is no law that says we have to notify anyone or put up a sign.” He added that the conversations have been going on since the middle of 2015 and well documented stories by local media sources. Boston pointed out that drag strips and race tracks and airports all make noise.

The vote on the motion included 4 votes in favor from Graham, Wyatt, Harris and Scot Shanks. Mayor Mayberry voted no after seeking clarification that the proposed public meeting would not affect the contract.

Following the vote, J. H. Graham requested a 5 minute recess that was approved by Mayor Mayberry.     

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