Radnor Announces Plan for 52-acre Expansion

by Holly Meyer, hmeyer@tennessean.com, 11/13/2015

Steve-Ward

Fifty-two acres of undeveloped ridgetop property will be added to the Radnor Lake State Natural Area, creating future opportunities for new trails and additional parking.

The land owned by the Harris family abuts with Franklin Pike and can be seen from Interstate 65, said Steve Ward, Radnor Lake park manager. The state and park leaders announced the $3.2 million acquisition plans during a Friday afternoon dedication of a new observation deck, which is on the north side of the lake along the popular Lake Trail.

With his arm outstretched, Ward stood on the new observation deck Friday morning and pointed out the new property, a hilltop that towers above Radnor Lake but blends into the bowl of wooded fall foliage encircling the body of water.

“This view is now protected forever. It will be like this in 100 years,” Ward said.

The 52 acres is the last remaining undeveloped piece of Radnor Lake’s viewshed and watershed, and its acquisition couldn’t happen without the successful partnership between the state, the Friends of Radnor Lake and the landowner, Ward said. The state is pitching in $2.2 million and the nonprofit needs to raise $1 million in the next 36 months for the acquisition, said Gretchen Pritchett, the Friends of Radnor Lake operations manager.

Commissioner Robert Martineau, of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, called the partnership a model during Friday’s announcement and dedication.

“One of the successes and challenges of being so popular is it puts a lot of pressure on the park from use and parking, and with this land acquisition it’ll give us some opportunity to create additional parking and additional trails so that everybody can still enjoy it,” Martineau said.

Once the acquisition is completed, the park can pursue the possibility of building a 2- to 3-mile trail between Franklin Pike and Otter Creek Road. A new parking area also could be added, alleviating the current parking problems. Radnor Lake has more than 1 million visitors annually.

Story continues below the photo.

Harding Academy students like Parker Wainwright, right, help spread mulch down at Radnor Lake State Natural Area's new observation deck on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 (Photo: Shelley Mays/The Tennessean)

Harding Academy students like Parker Wainwright, right, help spread mulch down at Radnor Lake State Natural Area’s new observation deck on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 (Photo: Shelley Mays/The Tennessean)

The Harris family agreed to sell the property for less than the market value, which was key because the Oak Hill area has some of the highest property values in the state, Ward said. The Harris family sold another portion of land to the park in 2011.

Ray Harris and his wife, Peggy Flynn Harris, own a part of the 52 acres, as do other members of their extended family. Ray Harris said he has worked with Ward on the project for almost 15 years and preserving the land for future generations to enjoy was a key motivator to selling the land to the park instead of to a developer.

“One thing, it’s a place that you love. Another thing, the people are so committed, the Friends of Radnor and employees are just so committed to that idea, that concept,” Ray Harris said. “That urbanization is just creeping in on us all the time.”

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