Before Douglas Dam had been authorized by Congress and while its construction was still in the discussion state, representatives of the Town of Dandridge requested an opportunity to discuss with TVA the need for the dam and the effects which its construction would have upon the town. A delegation of officials and citizens of the community met with representatives of TVA in September 1941, when all the facts and circumstances of the proposed project were reviewed, as well as physical and economic readjustments and problems facing the town if the reservoir was to be constructed.
Immediately after congressional authorization of Douglas Dam, Dandridge established an official planning commission to deal with readjustment problems and requested assistance from the Tennessee State Planning Commission and the TVA. The town planning commission first asked TVA to determine the feasibility of constructing a dike to protect the center of the town, which included the Jefferson County Courthouse, Shephard’s Inn, and other historic buildings as well as many of the business establishments and some residences.
Engineering studies indicated that it would be feasible to construct a dike about 900 feet in length and 50 feet in height to protect most of the town center. These studies and the overwhelming sentiment of the community in favor of such a dike led to TVA’s decision to construct it. The decision was announced at a meeting of the planning commission in March 1942 and was greeted by expressions of appreciation on the part of the town for the joint working out of this method or preserving the community center.
At the meeting, Chairman Lilienthal made it clear that the capable way in which the planning commission had presented to the TVA the disruptive effects of the reservoir upon the town had a great deal to do with the construction to build the dike. The planning commission, with the assistance of the Tennessee State Planning Commission and the TVA, also studied other problems of physical readjustment such as bridge relocation and developing areas adjacent to the dike.
In acquiring land for the dike, TVA purchased a 100-year-old residence, which it used temporarily for some of its own offices. The planning commission has developed plans for preserving and using this building as a community center. Arrangements are now under way for lease by the town of this fine old building, and of other waterfront property acquired by the TVA, for recreational purposes. Preliminary plans have also been developed for a regional park and boat harbor on the lake-front across the new bridge from Dandridge. The planning commission is preparing to be of service in recommending tourist facility development and zoning and land use controls to guide the extensive postwar growth which the outstanding lake scenery and central position of the town seem to warrant.