Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Town bids farewell to state planner, names street after him

After 28 years of serving Jonesborough as the town’s state planner, Chuck Alley will retire from the job next month. His retirement coincides with the state’s doing away with the planning office as a whole.
Alley helped create the first set of regulations for subdivisions in Jonesborough as well as original zoning ordinances and the overlay for the historic district. More recently, he has worked with zoning and annexation issues for the town.
When Gerald Sparks, now a Washington County commissioner, served as Jonesborough’s mayor, he worked closely with Alley.
“He was real helpful and always a pleasure to work with,” Sparks said. “He had a big impact on Jonesborough. They don’t make ‘em like Chuck anymore.”
While others talk about the big impact he had on the town, Alley is a bit more modest about his accomplishments.
“There were so many people involved in the changes in Jonesborough,” Alley said. “I was just such a small part of it.”
He gives credit to “too many people to name,” including Paul Fink, a Jonesborough historian who Alley credits with starting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park; and Jim Wagner, who Alley called “the real push behind historic planning” in Jonesborough.
While he won’t give himself much credit, Alley admits a lot has been done in Jonesborough since he arrived in the 1970s.
“The biggest thing is the renovation of downtown that had just begun,” Alley said. “And the huge amount of commercial development on Highway 11E.”
When Alley started to help with planning, the town didn’t even have an engineer and only “sometimes” had a public administrator, he said.
The town’s fire department was strictly volunteer and no one officially served as the town attorney.
“When I first came down there, we were in the old town hall. Storytelling wasn’t even there yet,” Alley said. “And we flew a little more — a whole lot more — by the seat of our pants.”
Alley said he is “tremendously impressed” with the direction the town has taken throughout the last 28 years.
“I think we’ve had some very innovative ideas,” he said, noting the creation of Boones Creek Road as one of those ideas. “And we’ve been able to preserve downtown. I think that’s the greatest achievement.”
Alley said he is also very proud that, in 1976, the town was able to bring the state Legislature to Jonesborough.
“It was the first and only time it has met outside of Nashville,” he said.
Alley, who started working with the state nearly 39 years ago — when Richard Nixon was president and the country was in the middle of the Vietnam War — said he is going to miss working in Jonesborough.
“Those people are so special to me,” Alley said. “It’s been a great town to work with.”
Town leaders seem to feel the same about Alley, whom they voted to name a street after at their Planning Commission meeting last week.
Chuck Alley Lane will serve as the name of a new public roadway being built in town. The road will lead motorists from Highway 11E to the Medicine Shoppe’s new location next to Pal’s on 11E.
It’s an honor that longtime Jonesborough citizen Alfred Greenlee says is well deserved.
“I was on the (Planning Commission) when Chuck came on as our state planner,” Greenlee said. “The town has really turned completely around over the last 30 years. As an overall, I think the town is brighter because of his work here.”