Largen land deal done

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By Terri Likens, Editor

Roane County’s newest recreation area is unnamed and undeveloped, but at least it’s now official.

After all the surveys were completed, the contracts drawn up, Roane Countian Gerald Largen donated the 112 acres of rural and lakefront land to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency  with a few strokes of the pen.

The property, which is on both sides of Bowman Bend Road is to be maintained for the enjoyment of Roane County residents and other visitors.

John Mayer, TWRA Region 3 manager, said initially, the agency will put in a small parking lot and a gravel trail to the waterfront.

Then, on a schedule that depends on budgetary constraints, it will construct fishing piers and other trails and amenities.

Largen has estimated the value of the property at between $3 million and $10 million.

“It’s a really generous gift,” Mayer said.

Largen, who had been looking for a viable way to donate the land for public recreation for many years, said he hadn’t initially realized that TWRA took such donations.

It was only when state parks officials — who couldn’t commit because of their own budget constraints — made the suggestion that Largen called TWRA.

Mayer has said TWRA officials may plant some areas to attract small game, such as rabbits and quail, for hunts.

“It will take year after year after year to develop it to what it could be,” Mayer said when the agency first agreed to take the land. “It takes money … but it won’t take a whole lot of money.”

The land includes some old Indian mounds and has many unusual plants — many of them added by Largen, who is a collector.

Species from around the globe include Arizona cypress, longleaf magnolia and western blackberry.
TWRA officials plan to keep his diverse botanicals.

Largen said he will keep about 12 acres to live on, and then give that to the TWRA as part of his estate.

Gordon Martin, who oversees real estate acquisitions for TWRA, was among the small group of people who witnessed the transfer at the Roane County Courthouse early this month.

“We’re certainly glad that you chose us as the recipient of this property,” Martin said to Largen.

“If there are other people out there who are interested in donating land for conservation purposes, we’d love to talk to them,” he added.

TWRA officials said they will be talking to Largen about what to call the property, and later will hold a public ceremony at the site.