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Residents protest proposal for private company to run Fall Creek Falls Inn


Thursday, angry residents stood in the cold protesting as private companies toured the state park inn their friends and family help run.
Thursday, angry residents stood in the cold protesting as private companies toured the state park inn their friends and family help run.
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Tennessee says one of its most prestigious parks has a run-down inn that is losing money.

Privatization may not affect those who just want to come hike or enjoy the scenic views at Fall Creek Falls, but it could cost a lot more to stay the night.

Thursday, angry residents stood in the cold protesting as private companies toured the state park inn their friends and family help run.

“Today’s meeting was an opportunity for potential partners to ask questions and tour the park,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. “The right partner will help us more effectively steward taxpayer dollars while ensuring the long-term viability of Fall Creek Falls’ hospitality operations.”

Randy Stamps represents state employees who work at the inn.

"They have put their sweat and soul into this place. they love this park and they take good care of it," he said.

He says those who work there make around 25 to 35 thousand dollars a year.

"We are here to let people know that the state employees are fully capable of running this inn, if it were funded appropriately," he said.

The Department of Environment & Conservation says only about 40 percent of the inn is being rented out, and that's not generating enough revenue to offset its costs.

Now, Tennessee plans to use 20 million dollars approved by lawmakers last session to rebuild this inn, and the state is looking for a partner to come in to run the inn. That most likely doubling the cost of a stay.

"That puts it outside of the affordability of many Tennesseans," Stamps said.

According to the state studies, rebuilding an entirely new inn is about the same price as renovating.

Stamps says the county schools will take a hit without three years of revenue from the hotel-motel tax during the rebuilding process.

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The protesting group says that they will call for some legislative hearings this upcoming session.

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