TDEC moves ahead with plans to privatize Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park employees learned Monday that the state is taking a significant formal step today in the plan to demolish, rebuild and privatize the park’s inn, restaurant and conference center, reports the Times-Free Press.

A request for proposals on the project is scheduled to be posted on the state’s website this morning, officials from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation confirmed Tuesday.

TDEC officials met with the park’s full-time employees at the conference center Monday to discuss how the building project and subsequent privatization will affect the 48 full-time hospitality workers at the park.

“People are mad,” Van Buren County Mayor Greg Wilson said. “The employees are mad.”

TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said Tuesday the state plans to identify its top proposal in late March or early April and that demolition of the 44-year-old building could begin by next December.

Hill called it a $22 million project that will benefit the local, regional and state economy as a company enters to operate the park with “a private sector business model.”

Opponents of the project argue that state parks are not intended to be profit centers and that extensive renovation at the inn would be a more cost-effective solution to falling occupancy rates.

Tennessee State Employees Association Executive Director Randy Stamps said Tuesday that he is “mystified” the state wants to tear the inn down, adding he expects there to be legislative hearings about the matter when the Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes next year…. “I do know there are some legislators who had no clue the money allotted to parks in the budget would be used this way.”

39 Responses to TDEC moves ahead with plans to privatize Fall Creek Falls State Park

  • Plain Talk says:

    Don’t OUTSOURCE our Parks! Save Tennessee’s Fall Creek Falls State Park and Conference Center. Please sign the petition to stop the madness!

  • Mallory K Shaver says:


  • Ray and Dawn Altman says:

    Please don’t do this! FCFSP belongs to the people of TN. It is great just like it is. We may not be able to enjoy the facilities if the prices go up.

  • John Ryan says:

    Leave Fall Creek Falls alone

  • Teresa Jeanne Tallent says:

    This is what you get when you hand your government over to republicans.

    • Cheryl Gray says:

      What Republicans? The most you can say about them is that they have Rs behind their names; the majority of them are RINOS and legislate like Democrats.

    • Bless says:

      Right, all while under the awful OBUMMER administration. If you are gonna bring politics into the issue (unnecessarily) you should already be aware of what the worst president did with our NATIONAL PARKS…under Dumbocrat rule. Is it impossible for your people to just get along, refrain from unnecessary and ignorant statements all while uniting with people (regardless of party) to save a park or is it simply about needing something to bitch about? Dont bother to respond…I’ve seen about all that you are capable of by you statement above. Look at everyone else’s comments… yours is the only one that is hostile and disposable! Do better!

      • Blessed with Civic Knowledge says:


        You’re delusional. Not sure if you understand the Federal system of government, but while Obama and the Democrats controlled the executive branch (and no other) during the last two years, and a slightly increasing level of control as you go back successive years to 2008 (recall, they were badly routed in 2010) when Obama won his first term- Tennessee has been firmly under the control of the Republican party for the duration of his presidency. Which simply continues to increase its majority and domination at all levels of Tennessee state politics outside of major cities. So this plan to privatize and monetize FCFSP can firmly be connected to them. TDEC and other State agencies are run by parties appointed by Republicans. Connecting the dots now? Do better!

        • Ellen Lee says:

          Thank you BWCK….so funny peeps want to deny any political connections to what is going on…and squawk when someone points a finger…..if you solve a problem or cure a disease you have to go back to the root of the problem to find a cure………..our state parks are one of the few places regular every day people can afford to take their families for an affordable amount of money…..even affordable for and occasional visit for lower income families……when places start privatizing rates get too high for even the average income families……..Fall Creek Falls could raise there fees somewhat to renovate without out pricing the average American Family….

      • Pam Dent says:

        Your schoolyard trash talk is pretty disposable itself. Hard to take you seriously when you cannot carry on an adult conversation.

        Your post might serve a purpose if it was based in facts.

      • Barkster says:

        Um, what exactly did “Obummer” do with our NATIONAL PARKS, Bless? Please post your source(s).

  • Deborah says:

    It will be a big mistake to privatize State Parks

  • Rhonda Kimball says:

    The park should not be privatized. The inn is a landmark. This is a small town with folks who work there that live in the area. They do not deserve to lose there jobs to people who are from other countries or states. Don’t be surprised if people protest. We like it the way it is where there is love,caring and preservation of the falls. I for one do not want to see the park harmed. The building is beautiful and a conference room center can be built somewhere else.

  • Karly Walling says:

    Leave our park as it has been for many years. Aunt Audie and Uncle Alfred would turn over in their grave to know their land was taken away.

  • wALTER cRABTREE says:

    Fall Creek Falls “STATE” Park … STATE = THE PEOPLE! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and if it is broke don’t sell it to PRIVATE industry to be “fixed”. This is the Peoples park and not yours to sell!!

  • Judy Marston says:

    Look at the mess made when some of the prisons were privatized and still are. Those are the biggest headaches, poorest run prisons in the state. Leave our park alone. When Haslam and his cronies leave office, then the private companies will still be there making a mess of everything.

    • Victor James says:

      Apparently, the Haslam Administration is either ignoring or is not aware of the cost comparison study done several years back between two State owned prisons with one of those privately operated. The difference in cost was pennies per day.
      These privately operated contracts contain details the public does not get to see and many verbal agreements not in writing. They also contain details that sets them up for a much larger profit margin than privately own businesses who does not have a State contract.
      The taxpayer also looses a degree of sovereignty or say so over a property or service they own because when a taxpayer has a complaint about a State owned but privately operated service, the State will give them the run around to wear them down in hopes the complaint goes away. Just one example of many games or tactics they play.
      Folks, this nothing but a repayment of favors to companies, businesses, and / or individuals who made big campaign donations and these elected officials are doing it off the backs of the taxpayers.
      The taxpayer will still bare the cost of expensive ticket items such as heating / cooling unit replacements; maintenance related equipment as well as other expensive ticket items. These contracts are sweetheart deals that plain, ordinary privately own businesses without contracts does not have the luxury of seeing and is nothing short of State sponsored corporate welfare.
      It all stinks and reeks of politics to its massively rotten core.

  • Troy says:

    I don’t think the Inn nor restaurant need to be demolished. Unless there are know structural deficiencies or issues. I like the architecture from that time period. It helps to lend a uniqueness to the the park.

    I will be the first to agree that the Inn does need updating. My wife and I have stayed there and would again if some updates were done. We also enjoy eating the seafood buffet on Fridays for time to time. Sorry that the crab legs were removed from the buffet.

    I really hope this isn’t being considered so that someone can stick another feather in their hat. I am not against needed change. But this smells as fishy as the fish served on the buffet.

  • Glenn hodges says:

    Why take away state employee jobs and give to someone else. Privatization has been tried before and property returned to the state in a run down condition

  • Deaf Jeweler says:

    Fall Creek Falls State Park is one of the BEST State Parks in the USA. It did not get where it is with privatization. Before we let TDEC destroy jobs, let the Department of Tourism promote one of America’s 10 Best State Parks.

  • mark smith says:

    Wonder how many private operator applicants will be named “Patel”.


    the state took the land from the people of van buren co years ago so take care of it now don’t sale the PARK.

  • A Jack says:

    …because privatization has worked out so well for prisons, education, and student transportation?!? DO NOT privatize our STATE parks!

  • DON'T BE A SELL OUT says:

    Are you guys crazy! Have you lost your everloving minds?!? If you sell out the park, you sell us all out. I think you will regret what you’re doing here. This business of privatization is just a new trend based on propaganda numbers to slight you all into believing that it will save you money. It won’t save you money and in the end you will have sold us out and be a sell out.

    When we were kids, the state park guides did a great job teaching us about nature and how to use a compass. I think some these politicians need to get back to what is natural and check their moral and mental compasses when it comes to this. Stop trying to save a couple dollars by being cheap and lazy. Don’t sell out the park.

  • merrily Teasley says:

    What a bad idea! Privatization never accomplishes anything in the longterm except reducing services to the public and maximizing profits for the investors. State parks should be open to the public at minimal cost without regard to profit. They should be operated at cost for the public good!

  • Sidney Bennett says:

    Why do republicans now call for unity when for 8 years you fought every move that Obama made? This is a state park and democrats have nothing to do with it. If it is privatized as Haslem and the republicans have privatized everything they can, it won’t be because of a democrat. We haven’t controlled the state legislature in 10 years. You have to find someone else to blame. You don’t have us anymore.

  • Barbara Walker says:

    Say no to privatization of our beloved state park.

  • Carlotta Domagala says:

    Please leave that beautiful park alone. It is a great tourist attraction. I am from Tn but don’t live there. When we come down we enjoy eating at the restaurant and we are thinking of bringing our family down and would stay at the inn. Leave it alone please.

  • Jane Kirk says:

    This is the dumbest idea I have heard in a long time!!! Do not do this to the people who work there and to the people of Tennessee and all who enjoy the park. Enough has been done to the park over the years. Please leave it alone for all to enjoy in the natural state it is now in. It ain’t broke – so don’t fix it. Been going to the Falls since there were only dirt roads there. Enough is enough! Leave it alone and also preserve the jobs of those who are so dedicated to the park in its still beautiful natural state! Leave it alone!

  • Karen webb says:

    We all know how well it has worked out to outsource school bus drivers. 6 kids dead in Chattanooga. Prisons are another great story of outsourcing it cost more any time you pay a middle man and that is what outsourcing is.Come on people grow a brain and say no to greed and the government being to lazy to do it’s job!

  • Joann Jr Jestice says:

    Why ? Privatetize our beautiful park , people love taking their children , and there selves go walking ,spending time looking at the water falls, camping out there listening to the water fall rushing down off the beautiful mountain ! There is no other place such beauty to enjoy free and natural!
    We say no!!

  • Happy says:

    Please leave it alone !! I have been going to this park for 67 yrs and it has had a facelift a few times to improve it but this is not a improvement !I went there as a kid when we swam. In the George hole before the pool was built even before the inn was built some change is needful I suppose but the park is just great as it is! Leave the park and our memories alone! This Bledsoe co person is happy with it staying like it is!!!!!

  • Rob Mitchell says:

    Please give the folks who work at the Park a gift for next Christmas. Please stop the Grinch and Scrooge from ruining this park and the lives of so many who depend upon it for their livelihood.

  • renee page says:

    The park belongs to the citizens and taxpayers not a private entity. People are tired of being over charged for good recreation that has our FREE natural resource that nature created itself.

  • Rosemarie Sparks says:

    Save the Park Inn

  • Mike Martin says:

    The Fall Creek Falls Inn does need a face lift. In 2013 an upgrade was scheduled. Occupancy was down. 2014 an upgrade was scheduled. Occupancy was down. 2015 and 2016 upgrades were promised but no schedule was given. Occupancy goes back up. See a pattern? Now we are told occupancy is down??? Revenues at the Inn are up and the occupancy is strong! It is very important the facts are presented. No politics, no misleading TDEC information.
    There is an obvious intent to mislead and dismantle the Inn. Why? Who benefits? Why would the state deliberately drive down occupancy and revenue to now use as an excuse to “privitize” the citizens State Park? It is imperative that we as Tennesseans watch closely to see who gets this contract and thoroughly investigate any and all connections to the stewards of this process.
    The bid process (RFP) is out. Take time to read this document. The Inn, Restaurant, Cabins and Golf Course will all be given to the concessionaire that gets the bid. Tax payer dollars pay for the tear down and rebuild. Not a bad deal for the right person?

  • Carolyn Lynn says:

    Leave the park alone, just as it is now, in its beautiful, natural state, for everyone to enjoy. Privitize Fall Creek Falls Park…. I smell a rat! Follow the rat to the money.

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