Tennessee General Assembly approves plan to fund Brushy Mountain

Plans call for turning a former state prison into a tourist attraction. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

PETROS, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The General Assembly has approved a plan that would pave the way for Morgan County to invest in a former state penitentiary once the decommissioning period ends this year.

The state left Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary five years ago and now developers want to turn it into a tourist attraction. Morgan County needs to borrow the money to help make that happen.

Senator Ken Yager, R-Harriman, says the bill will provide way for Morgan County to pay back the loans needed to lay the groundwork to open as an attraction.

"This will provide the infrastructure that's necessary," said Yager. "It's a very significant piece of legislation that we worked very long and hard with the administration on."

The proposed $10-12 million project would turn former prison land and buildings into riding stables, gift shops and a distillery. Sales tax generated on the property would go towards paying off the loans.

"They don't have the resources to pay off a bond issue. This piece was critical because without it the whole project would really fall apart," said Yager. "The good thing about it, we've taken an unproductive asset and we're going to turn it into a productive asset for the state and for Morgan County."

If all goes as planned, there could be new activity moving on the property in the coming months. The governor still needs to give final approval on the measure.

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