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Monterey To Consider Meadow Creek Park Master Plan Agreement

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Monterey To Consider Meadow Creek Park Master Plan Agreement

The town of Monterey could move forward with a master plan for Meadow Creek Park.

Members of the Board of Aldermen heard from Olin Studios during a Thursday work session. The company has offered to create a master plan for the some 290 acres. The urban planning company estimated the cost to be $120,000 but dropped the price to $15,000 to $20,000.

Mayor JJ Reels said an offer like this is hard to refuse.

“I think it is an unbelievable chance for us to get a product that is so above and beyond that we can’t get anywhere else,” Reels said. “We’re getting it for a sixth of the normal cost. We’re talking about something that costs $120,000 that they are willing to work with us for 15 to 20,000 and still get the same level of service and product. It is one of those things that you don’t expect to happen.”

Olin Studios is based in Philadelphia and has designed unique urban landscapes across the nation. It just so happens partner of the company Trevor Lee, who was present for the work session, has family roots in Monterey dating back hundreds of years.

“I wasn’t born in Monterey, but I grew up coming here every year,” Lee said. “It is a beautiful city. It is a beautiful town. I have deep roots here. (…) We would come to Monterey three or four times a year, and we always loved to go to Meadow Creek to canoe.”

After the company’s pitch, the four Aldermen present, Alex Garcia, Amy Martin, Nathan Walker and Jim Whittaker, all had positive feedback. As a result, Reels said the contract will be added to Monday’s Board of Aldermen meeting agenda for approval.

The master plan would take about five months to complete. Olin Studios Partner Jessica Henson said after completion, Monterey would be in a good position to gain federal or state backing to fulfill the long term goals.

“What we are seeing in a lot of projects across our country are connections being made through congressional and senate offices to put in requests for funding for construction,” Henson said. “And there is a lot of emphasis in that sort of construction funding and creating those partnerships. There is willingness on state and federal levels to fund and get the shovels in the ground if there is local planning and momentum.”

Cultural Administrator Rafferty Cleary said the recent rebranding of Monterey through Tennessee Tech’s Rural Reimagined Program led to Olin Studio’s interest.

“Trevor Lee contacted me and introduced himself,” Cleary said. “It turns out he has a home in the Anderson Road community that is just north of Monterey. He has donated stuff to the Depot before, but he called me and said hey I am seeing the work y’all are doing on the rural reimagine program, really excited for the enthusiasm for the town. Let me introduce you to my company I work with Olin Studios.”

Cleary said when he was asked how Olin Studios could help continue the growth, Meadow Creek Park first came to his mind.

“I’ve talked to numerous people about wanting to be progressive and enhancing our outdoor attractions,” Cleary said. “Meadow Creek is fairly new to Monterey, so I said we need help with a master plan.”

Besides personal ties to the area, Olin Studios also sees Meadow Creek Park as an opportunity for research. Henson said they like to connect landscaping with academia and are interested with the effects of park connectivity in rural areas.

“At a continental scale, something Trevor and I are working on right now is the scale of land use across the United States. We are looking at forest, agriculture, pasture land uses especially in relationship to rural communities and park connectivity,” Henson said. “Meadow Creek being an interesting park as it links into the larger forest system across the state of Tennessee is really interesting to us from a research aspect.”

If the master plan contract is approved, the Board of Aldermen will consider creating a public forum or a stakeholder committee to play a part in the process.


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