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Donation of land enables new campsites for non-profits to be built at Rotary Park

Montgomery County Tennesee Department of Parks and RecreationClarksville, TN – A donation of property adjacent to Rotary Park by local businessman, J. Lee Powell to the Montgomery County Department of Parks and Recreation has expanded Rotary Park, and will be used to provide a series of campsites that will be reserved for use by area nonprofits.

Discussions for a new addition to Rotary Park began in the summer of 2009 when Powell serving as a Boy Scout leader had finished supervising a service project at Rotary Park. Powell and Stacy Goodwin of the Montgomery County Department of Parks and Recreation while discussing the future of Rotary Park came to understand the need for a youth camping site on the south end of Clarksville as the City of Clarksville’s Billy Dunlop Park in North Clarksville has been the primary camping location for area Boy Scouts.

Montgomery County Attorney Austin Peay VII  and J. Lee Powell sign the paperwork transferring ownership of the property on September 7th, 2012
Montgomery County Attorney Austin Peay VII and J. Lee Powell sign the paperwork transferring ownership of the property on September 7th, 2012

Powell and Goodwin came to the conclusion that there really was not room to develop larger campsites in the wooded area on the current property, began to look at lands adjoining Rotary Park. “The main problem faced at the time was the lack of county funding to purchase new land, as in the Rotary Park area the costs of land is fairly expensive since it is valuable development area, as a result of rapid growth growth on this side of Clarksville,” said Powell.

Conducting research Goodwin located a plat of 7.40 acres that she believed was a good candidate for the addition. Powell contacted Jon Vaughn of Better Homes and Gardens Home Town Connection Real Estate, a close friend who started tracing the ownership of plat in question. “We found to our amazement that the property was owned by an elderly couple in the East TN area who had purchased the land in 1999,” said Powell. “From there we worked on options for buying the land and concluded that the best option was to sell off a portion of the land that was unusable for camping that included 4.29 acres and leave the remaining 3.11 acres for use at Rotary Park,” he said.

Vaughn approached the couple about purchasing the land to expand Rotary Park, and utilize the area for youth related camp sites. An agreement was made to purchase the land totaling $50,000 on 19 May 2010.

Following the purchase Vaughn coordinated a meeting with a potential developer, DBS & ASSOCIATES ENGINEERING who surveyed the area and agreed to purchase the 4.29 acres available to cover the original $50,000 purchase price. That deal was completed on the 19th of July 2010.

J. Lee Powell and Jon Vaughn of Better Homes and Garden Hometown Connection Real Estate look at maps showing the location of the property he donated.
J. Lee Powell and Jon Vaughn of Better Homes and Garden Hometown Connection Real Estate look at maps showing the location of the property he donated.

Discussions then began with Montgomery County Government for the donation of the remaining acreage, which was concluded with the signing of the transfer agreement in the offices of Montgomery County Attorney Austin Peay VII, on September 7th of this year.

The area will be divided into a series of pods which will can house five tents. The first two pods will be constructed by Gabe Levy, a Life Scout and a member of Boy Scout Troop 500, as his Eagle Scout project. Levy will raise the funds needed for the project, clear the campsites, and then build them out. He will begin the project at the end of September and is planning on completing the 10 campsites by December of this year. Once Levy’s portion is completed they were used as a template by other scouts who will eventually complete the project.

A multi-tent campsite (Image Courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
A multi-tent campsite (Image Courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Each of the pods will have the space needed to hold 1 large family tent plus 2 medium tents along with 2 regular size tents. Each camping site will be level and contain sand as the base to aide in a comfortable sleep area. Other additions such as a Fire pit and Picnic tables each site will be constructed to allow minimal disturbance in the area and follow the Boy Scout mantra of “LEAVE NO TRACE” the maximum extent possible. “Overall, no one should be able to see campers inside the area from the roads inside Rotary Park. Everyone camping in the area should feel that they are far removed from the city,” said Powell. “The plan is to fit the campsites into the available space being conscious of existing trails to continue to allow mountain bikers access to the area since Rotary Park is a well know area for hiking and mountain biking in the Region.”

Once fully completed there will be approximately 30 to 40 campsites available for use by area nonprofits. Future improvements may include building a private entry gate and installing water service for use by campers once the commercial development of the adjacent 4.29 acres is completed. “The development of the 4.29 acres should pose no threat also to Rotary Park and the campsites since codes require a buffer space be maintained between Rotary Park and any development that may also include a cul-de-sac be placed at the end of the development area that joins to the 3.11 acres,” said Powell

“The goal is to build the campsites utilizing privately donated funds and materials obtained primarily through Eagle Scout Service Projects,” said Powell. “Boy Scouts must complete a service project to obtain their Eagle Scout Award and this project fits very well into helping the community as outlined in the Scope and Criterion for Eagle Projects. The Scouts are required to serve as the Project Manager and raise any funding that is required to complete each project. The campsites will be funded using outside resources and not from the Montgomery County Budget.” Community service is important in scouting, ” One of the major areas all Scouts must remain diligent in for their rank is to continue to provide Service Hours to the community outside of Scouting. They do this at each Rank to include managing a large project in order to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. My son Landon Powell in fact led a large 2 year project for sponsored by the Clarksville Department of Parks & Recreation that included design and installation of custom dugouts covers for shade across 8 ball field complexes at Heritage Park in Clarksville in December 2008. That is another an example of providing something to the community that will be utilized for years to come, and in addition, has provided an added benefit of bringing revenue to the city of Clarksville from leagues wanting to play on the newly renovated complexes. ”

Powell hopes that others will use this project is an example to emulate, “As Clarksville continues to grow and there is ample opportunity for others to venture into similar opportunities on other sides of the town, and I hope this example of what is possible with teamwork and support.”

Powell concluded, “It is my hope that once completed fully, the added land with completed campsites will be a legacy given to the community that will pay dividends to the youth within Clarksville for years to come. I am very thankful for help from Jon Vaughn and Stacy Goodwin who were instrumental in making this project a great success and I am very proud and grateful to have been a part of this project.”

About J. Lee Powell

J. Lee Powell
J. Lee Powell

J. Lee Powell has been a resident of Clarksville since he was stationed at Ft. Campbell, while serving the United States Air Force as an Enlisted Terminal Attack Controller in 1987.

Following the Desert Storm and Desert Shield conflicts, he met his wife to be Carla Horne who was been a Special Education Teacher for the Montgomery County School System, mainly at Montgomery Central Elementary. Powell transitioned out of the Air Force in 1994 and settled here attending Austin Peay State University in the Engineering Technology Department then he went on to complete a Mechanical Engineering Degree at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN. Later Powell received my Masters in Business Administration from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University extension campus located on Ft. Campbell.

He is actively involved with the Youth Group at First Church of the Nazarene in Clarksville where he serves as a Middle School Sunday School teacher. Around 2002 Powell became involved in the area Scouting programs. Serving in various capacities from CubMaster leading Pack 509 at the unit level in Sango to an Assistant ScoutMaster in Boy Scouts, the District Activities Chairman for over 7 years, and acting as the District Chairman on the Middle TN Executive Board for Scouting for 1 year. Currently he is an Assistant ScoutMaster for Troop 500 chartered by the First Presbyterian Church in Clarksville, TN. Troop 500 was the first Boy Scout unit to charter in Clarksville over 67 years ago and averages close to 50 Scouts actively involved in the Boy Scouting program.

Currently Powell serves as a part-time independent Consultant in the Pump, Seal & Valve Industry, “I have been driving improvements in business and manufacturing operations for the past 16 years, more recently with Flowserve, a global provided of Pump, Seal, & Valves, for the past 7 years as the Director of Global Quality and Operational Excellence and Six Sigma Master Black Belt driving improvement initiatives across Global business units. I am currently in transition to a new job opportunity targeted as a Director of Global Quality and Operational Excellence and a Six Sigma Master Black Belt driving improvements in business and processes for a mutli-site company which I have done for the last 16 years. As part of my training I find ways of meeting goals when in some cases others have been unable or incapable of attaining results.”

J. Lee Powell and Carla Powell have 2 kids. Landon Powell, 17 who is a Senior at Clarksville H.S., Eagle Scout and member of Troop 500 Boy Scouts; and Delaney Powell, 12 who is in Girl Scouts Troop 134 currently working on her Silver Award and in 7th Grade at Richview Middle School.

About Rotary Park

Montgomery County Tennesee Department of Parks and RecreationRotary Park is a 100-acre nature park located on Rotary Drive, near the Sango community. It is easily accessible one block southeast of the Highway 76/Highway 41 intersection. Boasting over five miles of hiking/biking trails, and a large ADA-accessible playground. Rotary Park is located at: 2308 Rotary Park Drive, and offers the following features:

1 Playground Area Hiking/biking trails 3 pavilions
Picnic Tables & 4 grills Outdoor amphitheater Youth camping area
25 acres of open space 3 restroom buildings Sand volleyball court
Bill Larson
Bill Larson
Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave. You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.

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