Archive for May, 2009

Of interest is Question #5:

5. Should the city get involved to make sure Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts stays in Gatlinburg, and if so, what should be done?

McCOWN: I believe the city should take a strong stand to make sure that Arrowmont stays in Gatlinburg. Arrowmont is part of our culture and our heritage and we should encourage Pi Beta Phi (the national organization) to extend the leases to both Arrowmont and Pi Beta Phi elementary school. We should support changing the zoning of the Arrowmont property, or at least a portion of it, to make it an educational zone.

MONTGOMERY: As referenced in Question 2, I definitely feel Gatlinburg should do everything possible to retain Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts. If it is not monetarily feasible to purchase the existing property then we should make every effort to locate suitable property within the city limits of Gatlinburg.

OWNBY: Public involvement in private enterprise should be a cautious process. The dozens of our city have the right to be involved in any such process, and if the citizenry so desires the City Government and administration should pursue any actions which are legal and appropriate to keep “Arrowmont” in downtown Gatlinburg. The school and its history are a major component of the Gatlinburg Story. The grass roots efforts to preserve the school are a perfect example of how a community can work together to attempt to keep Arrowmont.

SMITH: Arrowmont is a part of our heritage and history and it should stay in the same location. The city has already started the process to create an Educational Zone in that area.

Gatlinburg candidates respond to Mountain Press questions


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May 05, 2009

GATLINBURG — Arrowmont officials still hope the longtime arts and crafts school can remain in Gatlinburg, but they’ve found “two or three possible choices” in East Tennessee in case they have to move.

With Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women still planning to sell the property housing Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, the school has continued since last fall looking for a place to go — ideally on land they’ll own or get a long-term lease.

The school is using a grant from Pi Beta Phi Foundation to pay for a feasibility study of the final sites under consideration.

David Willard, executive director of Arrowmont, wouldn’t name those sites, but emphasized he and the board still hope to remain in Gatlinburg.

“It’s an ongoing process,” Willard said Monday. “Obviously there is more detail we can’t go into regarding specific sites. We are still in the process of looking at all that and analyzing all that.”

Last summer, Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women optioned the Arrowmont property to private developers for a planned $200 million project that would have included four hotels, a water park, condominiums and businesses. That got Arrowmont officials and supporters involved in trying to protect its operations, including seeking a new location.

In late October, Pi Beta Phi announced it was breaking off the negotiations to sell the land “because of persisting uncertainties in the current economy.” The property was to be part of a larger development project involving members of the community.

Pi Beta Phi Grand President Emily Russell Tarr said at the time, “Due to the economic crisis, we were not surprised the development has not proceeded as planned. We continue to remain committed to the best long-term interests of the Gatlinburg community as we have for nearly 100 years.”

Arrowmont has found “several excellent opportunities” in East Tennessee if the school needs to relocate, according to the school’s Web site. Those sites plus the current site are being evaluated, with Arrowmont’s priority being control of the property through ownership or “a very long-term renewable lease of the land, and the evidence of local government and community support in the form of funding, with demonstrated support for arts and culture and non-profit organizations.”

The board also is considering the amount of available land, location and configuration, opportunities for partnerships, construction costs, existing infrastructure and buildings, retail opportunities, and nearby resources.

Willard thinks Arrowmont will have a better idea of its future after the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women has its summer convention in Grapevine, Texas.

“There’s a lot of conversation about this within the fraternity itself,” Willard said. “They’ll have a chance to talk about a lot of these things at the convention.”

Arrowmont is hosting a donor breakfast at the meeting, set for June 26-30. Willard thinks the convention will clarify issues about the school’s future.

The feasibility study on the potential sites should be completed this fall.

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