Posts Tagged ‘Emily Tarr’

Arrowmont yesterday posted an update regarding the ONGOING property negotiations. The last deal may have fallen through,  but as Save Arrowmont has stated previously, Arrowmont is NOT off the hook. The land and everything on it remains for sale. The fact the Fraternity wouldn’t extend the current lease only underscores this fact. Luckily, Arrowmont seems to have several very serious and solid offers for land/buildings/SUPPORT since relocation seems inevitable. Hopefully, Arrowmont leadership will act swiftly and take advantage of the goodwill and genuine community support from outlying areas. Three years is a very short time to move an entire small village. (more…)


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The News-Sentinel published an article regarding the cancelled Arrowmont property sale. Again, we caution against thinking Arrowmont is safe, a sale could still take place with other buyers. Emily Tarr is determined to unload what she considers a Pi Phi legacy of just “dirt.” This is not a person who values that they are the ONLY fraternity/sorority to OWN its philanthropy. And clearly, she does not value artistic endeavors. She probably buys Kincaids and makes certain everything matches the drapes and couch. Tarr’s tenure continues beyond Halloween, and that’s pretty scary. Let’s hope the Arrowmont leadership doesn’t bite the apple that Tarr just handed them only to fall into a complacent coma.

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 Pi Beta Phi Arrowmont-announcement

The Pi Beta Phi Fraternity announced on its website that the Arrowmont property will not be sold. Unfortunately, this also means that Arrowmont will remain under the thumb of having Pi Beta Phi controlling their operations and future. Take one of the many offers of free land, Arrowmont, control your own destiny. Emily Tarr will still sell as soon as someone else shows up with money. Guaranteed.


Pi Beta Phi Grand President Emily Russell Tarr said, “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. We will stay 

focused on developing our literacy initiatives consistent with the mission of Pi Beta Phi. We look 

forward to continuing our relationships with community leaders and leaseholders including Pi Beta 

Phi Elementary School and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.”

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Arrowmont owes its existence to the women’s group. Now it may owe its demise to the same group.

If anyone is in the middle of this dispute, it’s David Willard, the school’s first full-time director who must somehow defend his employer while not saying anything that might further alienate the Pi Phis.

He’s backed by his board, his students and untold numbers of Pi Phis around the country upset over a decision made by the fraternity’s seven-member grand council to entertain an offer to sell the land on which Arrowmont sits. Visit savearrowmont.org to learn the extent of the opposition. [Editorial note: this site is never updated, no helpful information, and no one can comment, not certain why this website was mentioned over http://www.savearrowmont.wordpress.com.]

“I have to be a little diplomatic here,” Willard, who came to Arrowmont in 2001 from the University of Texas, said. “We’ve got to remember that as emotional as this is and has been for me and the staff, this decision by the fraternity was a business decision that had nothing to do with us.”

And if the sale goes through, it appears Arrowmont wants to no part of the land either. Although developers who want to buy the land say they’ve made accommodations for Arrowmont, the school’s board says it doesn’t want to be surrounded by condos, restaurants, hotels and other commercial development (arrowmont.org). The Pi Beta Phi council says it will give Arrowmont up to $10 million to relocate, but that apparently won’t be nearly enough to replicate what the school already has on its 14 acres.

Willard’s fear is that all the talk about Arrowmont having an uncertain future might scare off donors and even students. The school has a $2 million annual budget, and the Pi Phis provide about 15 percent, or $300,000, of that, Willard said. Arrowmont has a lease on the property through 2011, but presumably a new land owner would renegotiate that or buy it out if it needs to.

Arrowmont’s dilemma is that it is powerless to stop the sale of the land and unlikely to get enough money from the sale to relocate with similar facilities. 

Among those championing the Arrowmont cause — and unrestrained by Willard’s desire for diplomacy — is Barbara Beville. She grew up in Gatlinburg, attended the Pi Beta Phi settlement school, served on the Arrowmont board and once owned three businesses in town. To say she’s incensed is an understatement.

“We’re just appalled,” she said. “In the first place the structure of the fraternity needs to be radically changed so seven women can’t make a decision of this magnitude. Members of the fraternity are just devastated. They’ve been so proud of Arrowmont.”

Pi Beta Phi seems to have shifted its emphasis from supporting a school of arts and crafts to backing a nationwide program to promote reading in young children. It apparently wants to divert resources from Arrowmont to that new program, Beville said. She questions whether that’s as viable a project as maintaining the Arrowmont school. 

But it’s more than just a disagreement over that.

“Where else can you find in Sevier County or the state of Tennessee a place like this?” she said. “It’s a part of me, a part of my own heritage.”

It’s also a critical part of the city of Gatlinburg’s vision. The new “Priority: Gatlinburg” study says the city should “embrace the Arrowmont School strategic plan and its cornerstone strategy of forging better connections with the community.”

Have city officials stepped forward to join the fight to save Arrowmont? Not yet, although that doesn’t mean the city is indifferent. Willard says he and the board want a dialogue to see what the city can do. 

In the meantime Willard has been getting calls and letters from other cities and governments interested in attracting Arrowmont and that “recognize what a treasure this school is,” he said. He won’t say who’s reached out, although he did say entities in East Tennessee had. 

Through all this chaos Willard has to keep trying to raise money and attract students. So far the student side is doing fine. Many have enrolled just to show support for Arrowmont, he said. The 23 full-time employees are understandably nervous.

Beville said it would be “an absolutely travesty” if Arrowmont is lost. She said the Pi Beta Phi national convention next year should be interesting, especially if no land sale has been done by then. She doesn’t think the land will change hands before that time. 

Mountain Press



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Arrowmont is in initial plans of site’s development group

A group of Gatlinburg residents is hoping to build a giant entertainment complex along the Parkway and said Friday that the project – which has sparked intense speculation in recent days – could include a spot for the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. (more…)

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Pi Beta Phi bemoans misinformation, but offers no plan details 

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