SMITHVILLE – The Lakeside Resort saga is finally coming to a close, it seems.
After four years, a handful of broken-down deals and a couple million dollars at stake, the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) says it will finally part ways with the Smithville-based Center Hill Lake retreat.
A buyer, Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch, a New York-based non-profit that aid abused and neglected children, will pay $600,000 for the property – a steep discount considering its initially listed purchase price of $2 million. But it gets the financially-strapped resort, one that UCHRA has been looking to unload for years, off its books once and for all.
According to a memo issued by Tuesday, officials will sign documents to make the transfer official later this month. In a separate newsletter, UCHRA Executive Director Luke Collins called the news the “happiest day of his life.”
UCHRA, which provides job training, transportation and nutrition/food services in the 14-county region, is still responsible for a nearly $1.3 million note to USDA Rural Development. After applying the $600,000 from Timothy Hill, Collins said the agency will borrow more than $685,000 from the Bank of Putnam County to pay back the remainder over a four-year period.
UCHRA has tried to unload Lakeside Resort since early 2012 when the 139-acre property was discovered to have been operating at a deficit; there was also a scathing audit report that same year that pointed to “questionable financial transactions” there, among other UCHRA missteps. The agency nearly sold the resort to Brentwood Arts Society in 2013 but the deal fell through after numerous contract extensions. That group, headed by Jim Himelrick and Bob Pierce, had proposed assuming the USDA loan.
The mission of Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch, UCHRA officials say, best meets their goals for the property, which involves helping local youth. The non-profit, whose main campus is located in Riverhead on Long Island, New York, provides residential care and therapeutic environments to boys 10-21 years old. Services and programs are also available such as campus ministries, adventure based programs, resident jobs and marriage counseling.
“We are excited about taking on the management of Lakeside Resort,” Thaddeus Hill, Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch executive director, said. “My father was originally from Tennessee, so this is a homecoming of sorts for the Ranch, and we look forward to serving the people of Tennessee through hospitality.”
Collins said officials will close the deal March 31. That’s a different date than the originally proposed March 15.
“We are excited about the future for all of us,” Collins said. “UCHRA introduces a new positive force while getting to focus more on our remaining services; this includes our own youth programs CHANCE Residential Center, Cumberland Mountain School, and Indian Mound. Timothy Hill expands beyond, now adding Center Hill Lake as their next beautiful location. The Upper Cumberland benefits as well by supporting our local children with more resources. We feel this will be a great partnership and hope Tennessee Tech University will be involved with an educational focus in the future.”