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The K-25 Overlook will soon be reopening as a much larger and nicer visitor center that also will have a new purpose. Owner John McCormick, Vice President of Bionomics, purchased the 160-acre property known as Happy Valley through an auction at the end of 2016. The overlook on SR 58 across from ETTP was part of the purchase but needed building repairs and updates to the historical information inside. In 2017 McCormick partnered with Pam May, Vice President of the Roane Alliance, who reached out to local historians, the National Park Service (NPS), DOE and Explore Oak Ridge to discuss the future of the overlook.
“The idea to expand the overlook into a visitor center and recreational hub came from the NPS in one of the early meetings,” said May, “and that aligned perfectly with what John had envisioned – to create trails and open spaces that people could enjoy while also learning Happy Valley’s history through its landmarks still evident on the property.”
The overlook will reopen sometime in the fall, with triple the inside space – from 225 square feet to approximately 700. The space will also have two entrances, both ADA-compliant, air conditioning/heat and LED lighting. Designsensory in Knoxville will design the interior, creating a space where visitors can learn about the Manhattan Project National Historical Park; the story of Happy Valley, a “city” of 15,000 once located next door to the overlook; and the recreational opportunities that surround the overlook, such as trails and boat launches.
“I wanted it to be a much nicer space,” said McCormick, “and I am committed to seeing this through - to create a space that highlights our community and its history, and possibly bring in jobs. And we are using local contractors and businesses when possible. Through this partnership, I am excited to see what the overlook can become for Roane County.”
Bionomics has been in Roane County 28 years and is involved in the disposal of very low-level radioactive waste, working with universities, hospitals, research facilities, and local companies.
“This project is a labor of love for everyone involved and we are excited to be part of this remodel,” said Sam Jones, Tourism and Marketing Coordinator, the Roane Alliance. “We want the space to be a place where visitors can enjoy inside and out. We could use picnic tables, landscaping and building materials in exchange for recognition so if you are interested in donating or getting involved please email email@example.com.”