By Max Hrenda
As a plan to develop the west end of Elizabethton begins to gain traction, it might also breathe new life into one local project that has, to date, struggled to get “flowing.”
Business developers, economic developers, and government officials are hoping that the proposed tax increment finance – or TIF – district for the area between West Elk Avenue and the Watauga River could prove beneficial for the proposed Elizabethton Fish Hatchery.
In September 2009, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency bought the nearly 25 acres, located at the end of Cherokee Industrial Park, from Elizabethton for $190,000 specifically to build the hatchery. Although the Tennessee General Assembly would approve an additional $800,000 for the study and design of the facility, from that point, progress came to a halt.
“It’s a funding issue now,” said state Rep. Kent Williams. “We’re eventually going to get a hatchery built; I believe that 100 percent. Like I said, it’s just a funding issue.”
TWRA estimates that the total cost for completing the hatchery and its surrounding facilities is approximately $21 million. Apart from the nearly $1 million that has already been spent, further funding for the project has yet to arrive.