The Walden Board of Mayor and Aldermen has begun initial talks with the Southeast Tennessee Development District about the possibility of developing a centralized, commercial downtown.
Residents have expressed interest in a business district for more than a year, and officials said with plans for a new county-funded fire hall underway in Walden, now is the perfect time to start examining options that would tie the town together.
"We're just looking to the future," said Mayor Bill Trohanis.
The possible business district could include establishments ranging from restaurants to professional services not currently available in the town, but final determinations would be made based on community input, officials added.
One other development Trohanis said residents have asked about is a condominium community similar to Westfield, located in the town of Signal Mountain. The request has come from property owners hoping to downsize as maintenance becomes more difficult with age but who don't want to move away from friends and family to do so.
"We have Alexian up here, but everybody doesn't want to go to a nursing home because they can't mow the grass anymore," Trohanis said.
He added that SETDD would also be able to help officials look at the town's services to identify additional opportunities, pointing out Walden's lack of a functioning gas station as an example.
The first step to any future development will be planning, SETDD Regional Planner Jennifer Williams told officials in recent meetings. That could take the form of drafting a full comprehensive plan for Walden or a quarter plan for areas like Taft Highway, she said.
Alderman Lee Davis stressed the importance of using the plans to look even further into the future, including what residents might want the town to look like one, five and 10 years from now. He also said making sure developments would fit the look and feel of the town is a priority.
Walden officials hope to keep working with SETDD planners, who would help them lay the framework and foundations to make discussions about future development possible.