I join my fellow Nashvillians in offering condolences to the families of those slain in the Covenant school shooting and in the Louisville bank shooting. These tragic acts have ended lives and stolen the innocence of hundreds of children and adults who may never be able to think of school or anywhere as a safe place. I’m grateful for the swift action of law enforcement in both cases that kept the losses from being any greater. It is not enough to keep those suffering in our prayers or to offer to put more armed officers in the schools. We owe it to those families, fellow students, and teachers to make all schools, banks, restaurants, and other places safer by pushing for reasonable gun safety regulation. It is not unreasonable to require training and a permit to purchase a gun. It is not unreasonable to require guns in cars to be hidden and securely locked. It is not unreasonable to allow only highly trained professionals to own weapons of war. Write your state and federal representatives at capitol.tn.gov and the Congressional web site.
On Monday, April 10, a three judge panel issued an injunction putting a halt to the state-imposed Redistricting process. The judges ruled that the state law requiring Nashville alone to reduce the size of our Metro Council on a very compressed timeline would cause irreparable harm. This means that the August 3 election will take place with a 40 member council serving the districts redrawn in 2021 through an open, very community driven process. There may still be a legal challenge on whether Nashville has to reduce the size of the council for our 2027 election. Now that we have seen what only twenty districts looks like and how it reduces community and minority representation, I think Nashville should use every means available to get this cap lifted before it might have to be applied in the future.
Brush Pick-up begins in
- Area 10 (Whites Bend, Charlotte Park, Cockrill Bend, Nations, TSU, College Heights, Germantown, Buena Vista) on April 3,
- Area 11 (Joelton, Whites Creek, Marrowbone, Scottsboro, Bells Bend, Bordeaux, Haynes Heights, Haynes Manor ) on April 7
- Area 12 (Goodlettsville, Dalemere, Bellshire) on April 12.
- Area 1 - West Madison, Capital View, Douglas Park, Cleveland Park, McFerrin Park, Highland Heights on April 19
- Area 2: East Madison, Inglewood, Neely’s Bend, Peeler Park, Maplewood Heights, Iverson, Maxwell Heights, Edgefield, Eastwood, Shelby Bottoms, Shelby Hills, and Lockland Springs on on April 25
Effective April 3, WeGo Public Transit has implemented system-wide service changes. Route changes have been made based on shifting ridership demands that required reallocation of service hours. New route schedules can be found at the WeGo website. WeGo has also implemented a new flexible payment system that allows riders to pay for their fare using a reloadable card, smartphone app, or traditional paper ticket on all WeGo routes, services, and vehicles. Find out how to create an account and get a reloadable card here.
The Rock and Roll Marathon is taking place Saturday, April 22 starting at 6:30 from Demonbreun at 8th Avenue. The event benefits St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Multiple distances are included so everyone can participate. Choose from Marathon, Half Marathon, 6.15 Mile, 5K. Shorter races on Sunday, April 23 include the 1 Mile, KiDSROCK, and the Doggie Dash. Register at RunRockNRoll.com . The route is similar to past years, going out Music Row, 12th South, Clifton, Belmont, the Gulch, Rosa Parks, Metro Center, Woodland Streed, S 5th, Shelby Park, finishing at Nissan Stadium. Information about street closings is here. WeGo is offering train rides from Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Donelson, and Hermitage to the Marathon for $17. Train ticket sales also benefit Saint Jude. Sign up for the train at TicketsNashville.
International Dark Skies Week is April 15-22. This is an opportunity to reduce unnecessary lighting to help migratory birds navigate better, to save energy, and to bring back the night sky. Look for star parties and activities in local parks and the Adventure Science Center.
Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day. The Centennial Park Conservancy is planning an Earth Day celebration at Centennial Park from 11 to 6. This free family event brings the Nashville community together to celebrate our planet, inspire positive environmental change, and support sustainable small businesses & nonprofits. Nashville Earth Day will feature engaging & educational activities from a variety of exhibitors and vendors, including local growers & makers, nonprofits, sustainable small businesses, and state/metro government agencies. There will be free live music, Kidsville activities, and local food vendors. Information is available at the Earth Day website. The Nashville Tree Foundation will distribute 500 trees at the event, on a first come first serve basis. The trees include: red maple, white oak, sweetbay magnolia, American yellowwood, and flowering cherry. This is also a great day for neighborhood clean-ups and plant swaps. Check out my neighborhood’s swap at HWEN.org and use it as a model to set up your own.
Metro Water Services is hosting another great learning opportunity for neighbors. The Spring 2023 Citizen’s Water Academy program will consist of five two-hour in person sessions where Metro Water Services leadership will share details on how our most precious resource, water, is managed from “river to river”. The dates for the Spring 2023 sessions will be…
- Tuesday, April 25; 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. “Imagine a Day Without Water” at the K.R. Harrington Water Treatment Plant
- Thursday, April 27; 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. “Protecting the Environment” at the Whites Creek Water Reclamation Facility
- Tuesday, May 2; 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. “A Sustainable Future” at the Biosolids Facility
- Thursday, May 4; 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. “Protecting Public Health” at the Research and Analytical Laboratory
- Tuesday, May 9; 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. “The Value of Water” at Omohundro Water Treatment Plant Applications are now being accepted at Nashville.gov.
Metro has over 75 Boards and Commissions that help implement the goals and policies of the Metro Departments. These are made up of citizens from all over the county who bring their diverse perspectives and expertise to ensure good decision making. Board members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the Metro Council. The Mayor’s Office is always looking for good people to serve. Anyone who is interested in being considered can look through the different Boards and Commissions pages at Nashville.gov/boards and sign up through the application link at the bottom of each page.
The downtown Broadway Bridge will closed from July through Aug for renovation. Traffic will be rerouted to Church Street and Demonbreun during the time when all lanes have to be closed simultaneously.
The Metropolitan Action Commission has paid work experiences, internships, and peer leader opportunities available for Davidson County youth between the ages of 14-24 years old. The deadline to apply is April 21. The agency’s POWER Youth Summer Employment initiative partners with employers within Metro Government, businesses, non-profits, and other organizations to provide seasonal, part-time, year-round and career preparation experiences. To access the portal, applicants should go to http://poweryouth.nashville.gov. The youth summer opportunities are coordinated by age-appropriate groupings.
- Ages 14-15. Experience Work participants make $12 per hour while working on art or community development projects.
- Ages 16-19. High School Interns make $14 per hour work independently at private, public, non-profit, and university job sites, and receive pre-program training and coaching to ensure they have the skills needed on the job.
- Ages 20-24. Peer Leaders make $17 per hour, while developing skills that are transferrable to a career in youth development.
All positions, except for the year-round positions, will begin June 5 and end July 21. Applicants must have a Davidson County address to be eligible for the POWER Youth Summer Employment program. For questions regarding the POWER Youth Summer Employment programs or how to apply, call 615-862-8860 or visit the MAC website.
The council will take up the second of three votes on the proposed new Titans stadium at our April 18 meeting. The current lease, negotiated in the 1990s, obligates the city to maintain the facility in First Class conditions, which is not clearly defined. Estimates on the cost of doing the needed renovations range from $300 million to $1.8 billion. Regardless of where on that spectrum the actual cost lies, the payment comes from local taxpayer dollars under the current lease. Facility maintenance is currently being paid for by property tax dollars and general sales tax, and $30 million remains on the original bond issues that will be paid out of the general fund. The new proposal frees Metro taxpayers from these obligations as well as from $32 million owed directly to the Titans for Metro required maintenance that the Titans already paid for. The proposed new covered, 60,000 seat stadium is estimated to cost $2.1 billion. The lease under consideration shifts the cost from property tax and general sales tax to tourist taxes and football related sources:
- $840 million minimum from the Titans, NFL and PSLs. Titans cover cost overruns and future maintenance and capital expenses
- $500 million from a one-time State contribution (available for a domed stadium only) to be funded by state-wide sales tax revenue
- $760 million from Sports Authority revenue bonds repaid by
- New 1% hotel tax (authorized for a new stadium only)
- Sales tax from retail sales within the stadium
- 50% of sales tax in a 130 acre area around the stadium
- $3 per ticket stadium tax and rent
The Titan’s ownership will be responsible for maintenance and capital expenses to keep the facilities in First Class condition. Metro is responsible for maintaining at least 3,000 parking spaces, most likely in a parking garage eventually. The current surface parking lots not dedicated for the new stadium will be freed up for Metro to develop, which is not possible under the existing lease. Metro Planning is in the process of choosing a development partner, who will build out the freed up area according to the East Bank Vision Plan. This plan includes affordably priced housing, public green space, multi-modal corridors, and a neighborhood focus. This plan was developed through numerous community engagement opportunities and incorporates the issues that citizens from all over Nashville identified as important. Significantly, this development will provide new property tax revenues that can be used for schools, sidewalks, and housing support that many Nashvillians have advocated for.
This vote comes at the culmination of nearly two years of negotiations. Through Council Member Mendes’s East Bank Committee, information about the proposal has been made available on-line for months and at community meetings during the winter in all quadrants of the county. This process has provided important opportunities to improve terms so that the final deal is beneficial to all Nashvillians and not just sports fans. Council members heard loud and clear at the five community meetings held in December there need to be tangible benefits for regular folks. In response to that message, an amendment was added to the term sheet creating a Nashville Needs fund to receive revenue from the stadium and direct it to important public benefits like schools and housing. A recent amendment adds further income from ticket sales that can be directed to Metro’s general fund. In addition the council was able to add a requirement to pay the bonds off earlier if revenues exceed projections. This would end the additional taxes earlier. Information on the current agreement documents can be viewed at the Council resource page. Final vote on the agreement could be as early as April 20 or 25 in a special called meeting. Once the council begins considering budget legislation in May, council rules prohibit us from voting on legislation that would involve issuing bonds. Therefore any delays after the end of April would push this decision to July. Because the Federal Reserve is very likely to raise interest rates during that two month pause, a delay would add $100 million to the project cost without necessarily adding any value to Metro.
Almost 15,000 Davidson County property owners with property in a flood hazard area recently received a flood information mailer from Metro Water Services. Ensuring that property owners are aware that their property is in a flood hazard area and providing them with information and resources for flood protection and mitigation is a requirement of Metro’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Community Rating System (CRS) . This participation makes federally backed flood insurance available for all eligible buildings in Davidson County. Additionally, Metro’s participation in the CRS, gives Davidson County residents a 10% discount on their flood insurance premiums. The mailer is for informational purposes only, but it is hoped that recipients will look into options for flood insurance, given their increased risk. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, condo owners, commercial owners, and all renters. FEMA provides information and resources on the NFIP through their website.
The Mayor’s Office is once again inviting neighbors to join in a Participatory Budgeting process to allow community input and decision-making power on certain Metro capital projects. This process is now in the idea collection phase. These will be used to create a ballot later in the year. The ballot that residents will get to vote for in October and November can only be made of ideas submitted by the community. Neighbors are encouraged to make sure each council district is represented in the process by submitting ideas on what they want to see fixed or improved. Residents may submit an unlimited number of ideas. The suggested items should be for a specific location and should be physical improvements as opposed to requests for personnel. By working together, we can create a stronger, more vibrant community for everyone. The deadline to submit ideas is June 1st. Submit ideas at the Mayor’s web page.
I hope everyone is appreciating the revival of new life this spring. Please let me know how Metro can serve you at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-383-6604.
Metro Council At-Large