Oak Ridge controversy over economic growth

Oak Ridge controversy over economic growth versus saving green space

Posted:
A controversy is brewing in Oak Ridge over a proposal made to place a power line on a greenway. A controversy is brewing in Oak Ridge over a proposal made to place a power line on a greenway.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - A controversy is brewing in Oak Ridge over a proposal made to place a power line on a greenway.

The Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board says providing power to the back section of the Horizon Center Business Park has to happen to develop the park. One city council member disagrees with the proposal saying he doesn't want acres of green space to be cleared.

Oak Ridge resident Michelle Kirchenstiner says one of draws to the city is all the green space.

"We come to the dog park, use the hiking trails and play Frisbee golf," said Kirchenstiner.

The Industrial Development Board has applied for a grant to get additional power using a new power line to the back section of the Horizon Center Business Park.

Board Chair David Wilson says the board hopes the grant is approved. Wilson says having power in the back of the park would attract more businesses to build.

"We think that's about the smallest amount adjustment for the city of Oak Ridge to have a business park that's going to generate money and jobs and taxes," said Wilson.

Oak Ridge City Council Member Charlie Hensley says to put the power line in at least three acres of green space will be cleared, including a mile of a greenway.

"I'm very concerned that this is going to destroy that area. This trail is almost nine miles long. It takes almost a mile out of the middle of it," said Hensley.

Hensley believes other alternatives should be considered, but says he's not speaking on behalf of the council.

Wilson says all other routes are more expensive to put in.

"You're talking about significant amounts of money to run power all the way down to the highway and back in here," said Wilson.

Kirchenstiner says there will be a cost with any route and wants all alternatives considered.

"We need to keep our green spaces. I know that we need business to be here but we need to find a way that they can coexist," said Kirchenstiner.

The cost of the current plan to put in the power line is around $700,000. If approved, the grant would provide $300,000. The city would have to match that amount.

Wilson says it will be several months before they know if they will be approved for the grant. Wilson says this plan is the most cost effective way to provide power to the back of the park.

Opponents say the board is not considering the cost of losing a section of the city's greenway.

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