Crafton withdraws bill to save fairgrounds

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 10:55pm

Instead of deferring his bill to preserve the fairgrounds as originally planned, Metro Councilman Eric Crafton has withdrawn it altogether.

The bill, which would limit the 117-acre fairgrounds property off Nolensville Pike to its current use, went before the council on second reading last night.

Crafton said he decided to withdraw the legislation to accommodate a task force that’s been assigned by Mayor Karl Dean to solicit community input to study the future of the fairgrounds. The task force, working in conjunction with the Nashville Civic Design Center, will kick off a series of public meetings on the topic Monday, April 12.

Still, Crafton’s withdrawal comes with a major caveat.

“If it’s determined they’re going to close the fairgrounds down, I’m not in favor of that, and we’ll bring back an alternative plan that will seek to preserve the fairgrounds,” Crafton said. “But, at this point, I’m satisfied to let the task force move forward.”

In other council business:

• The council voted 36-2 to award $250,000 to a woman wrongfully accused of forgery, settling a suit that had been slapped on Metro.

A series of errors on behalf of Metro police in 2006 led to the arrest of the wrong woman during a warrant sweep operation. The woman, who spent seven hours in custody and was televised by a news crew being placed in a police car, contended in the suit she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and severe emotional stress as a result of the incident.

Voting against the resolution to settle the case were council members Crafton and Robert Duvall.

• The council on second reading approved an ordinance that would increase Metro Codes building permit and other constructed-related fees by 30 percent overall.

Terrence Cobb, director of the codes department, introduced the ordinance after a consulting firm determined Metro had not been collecting a sufficient level of dollars through fees administered to acquire building, plumbing, electrical, mechanical and other permits.

During the ongoing economic downtown, construction has been down; hence, fee collections are down, too.

The bill must clear one more council vote to become law.

• The council voted 33-4 to approve a memorializing resolution that asks Tennessee’s gubernatorial candidates to sign a pledge that, if elected, they would ensure Metro General its fair share of matching funds made available through Medicaid.

Shelby County approved a similar resolution in February that asks candidates for governor to sign a pledge to ensure adequate funding at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, the state’s largest safety net facility.

17 Comments on this post:

By: Can Do on 4/6/10 at 10:23

Mr. Crafton - if the task force, after public meetings and deliberations, decides to use the fairgrounds properties for other purposes, then you intend to file the previous legislation. Kind of sounds like "blackmail" or trying to coerce your way.

How about an open mind, and commit to review and listen to the task force before stating what you are going to do. That is what an intelligent, smart politician would do. But obviously, you have already made up your mind, and have already decided to use your "bully pulpit" to try to influence the task force and keep your name prominent in the news as a strategy to support your candidacy for the Juvenile Clerk position.

You are one hell of a politician, looking after your own interests to the detriments of the community. How do you rationalize this behavior?

By: idgaf on 4/7/10 at 3:14

Sounds like he made a deal to me either for backing or contributions to his campaign or both.

As much as I want to like this guy he is not the brightest bulb on the strand.

He was one of two votes against that lady WHY?

By: Anna3 on 4/7/10 at 5:24

Can do...and simple how Crafton arrived at this position...He's met with the affected neighbors multiple times! Before you make ignorant rants on the may want to get your facts straight. Crafton has found ZERO support for the mayors plan, and has been LISTENING to those most affected by Dean's plan to sell the fairgrounds to HCA. The Fairgrounds actually made money until Dean put Buck Dozier in charge of them. So...if Dean wants to set up a sham committee and claim to actually listen to the neighborhood...and then claim that he has a mandate to close the Fairgrounds...he'd be lying. Go to ANY of the meetings and see for yourself.

By: Can Do on 4/7/10 at 7:22

Anna3 -

I respect the views of all Nashville citizens and their rights to speak out. However, the fairgrounds property doesn't belong to the neighbors who live close to the Fairgrounds, it belongs to all of us who live in Nashville.

There are many people throughout the city that feel the fairgrounds is outdated and the property is being under-utilized in terms of its "highest and best use". If you have ever been to Indianapolis or Minneapolis to name a couple of cities, you would see what a great fairgrounds looks like - the cleanliness, the modern facilities and fencing, and the vitality of the property and events held there.

The city needs a new fairgrounds with more space, modern exhibition buildings, and better maintained grounds and infrastructure. There are many groups and organizations that need affordable, heated and cooled, clean, and well maintained facilities for their shows, expo's, and events. The Municipal Auditorium, the Bridgestone Arena, the current Downtown Convention Center, Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, and the new Music City Center are too expensive to use for the kind of shows currently using the facilities at the fairgrounds. They were designed for other type events and shows.

You accused Karl Dean of setting up a "sham" committee, a pretty strong and cruel accusation. I believe Karl is smart and fair. He has slowed down the process in recognition of the need to give the community the opportunity to speak for and against various scenarios for the future of the Fairgrounds property. The property could be redeveloped for other uses that would have a greater impact for the City and increase the property values for the homeowners that live near by. The property could become a new City Park with picnic pavilions, a new community center with meeting spaces, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, maybe even a new library branch. The property could become a multi-use development with condominiums, retail space, and office buildings. The property could become the site for a new baseball stadium and other compatible development. It could become a campus for recruiting a major corporation like Nissan, Mattel, or Google to locate their national headquarters or regional offices.

There is affordable, less expensive property in Davidson County to build a new Fairgrounds with adequate space for the Midway, the barns and stalls for livestock, exhibit halls, meeting spaces, rest rooms, concession stands, and paved, lighted parking lots. A successful State Fair needs a well designed, spacious, and 21st Century fairgrounds.

Buck Dozier and the Fairgrounds Board have done a good job of holding together an outdated and poorly maintained group of old buildings and facilities. The weather and changes in culture have been the major deterrents to the declining success of the State Fair. In today's high pace world, dominated by television and computers, are there still enough people that want to attend a State Fair in Nashville? I grew up in a city and a time when the State Fair was the biggest event of the year - they even closed school one day during the Fair so that children could attend. I am afraid those "good ole days" are past us.

We need to look forward, not back. We need to be creative and not afraid to imagine the possibilities for a better use for the 100 + acres of prime real estate owned by the city less than a few miles from its downtown core. The Nolensville Road Corridor's future depends on the right use of the fairgrounds property.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/7/10 at 7:25

Anna, I've lived near the fairgrounds for years and want the changes that Dean is trying to do. That's not ZERO support and there's a lot of other neighbors who feel the same way I do.

By: South Nashville Life on 4/7/10 at 7:56

I also live in the neighborhood next to the fairgrounds and support redevelopment.

In an area that is overrun with industrial type businesses, the fairgrounds property has great potential to bring in a mixture of businesses that actually serve the residents of the neighborhood & Nashville (shops, restaurants, etc) and replace the barbwire and concrete with a lovely green space that could be a source of civic pride (Brown's Creek could be a focal point).

I'm looking forward to seeing what the Task Force & the Civic Design Center come up with.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/7/10 at 8:20

i completely agree, South Nashville Life. right now that property is run down and draws criminal activity at night.

By: idgaf on 4/7/10 at 8:29

You people are deluding yourselves. Dean will find a way for the taxpayers to lose/cost money on that property.

Personally speaking the Wison County location should be the site for the State Fair but we are up to our eyballs in a spending hole and we need to stop digging and trusting these politicians.

Dean just commited us to a billion dollars on top of the preds and titian deals which we are losing 25 million a year to provide customers for downtown businesses.

We need to put the breaks on spending and corporate welfare.

By: 117_acres on 4/7/10 at 9:02

Again for all the people who want to come in during the 11th hour this discussion regarding the fairgrounds began at or around 2 years before Mayor Dean took office. This is not something that happened over night! Clearly the Mayor as well as other Metro Council members have been listening to the people that are most affected by the fairgrounds because they are moving forward in this process and the status quo on this property will be coming to an end on December 31. The fairboard is dissolving at the end of June and the Finance Department will taking over the property. Improving or developing this property is something that should have been done probably twenty years ago but I guess none of the life long Nashvillians seemed to concerned about the condition of the property or the area around the property, or the noise from the racetrack. Councilman Crafton probably understands now that this was not some knee jerk decision made by the Metro Executive Branch and that there is a lot of support in the community to develop the property! I don't think Crafton has made any back door deal. I do believe Crafton understands now that the real supporters of keeping the fairgrounds don't live in Nashville but the surrounding counties and therefore cannot vote in the Juvenile Court Clerk election. Also, it is kind of tough to run for Juvenile Court Clerk while supporting the fairgrounds which the main group that is opposing redevelopment is The Fairgrounds Preservation Group (a.k.a THE RACETRACK PRESERVATION GROUP) who's former spoke person is a convicted sex offender who has a violent status listed on the sex offender registry.
The point to remember is that a private entity or even Metro government could find another home for the fair or expo events that is better suited to host these type of events. I agree with "Can Do" that Nashville needs a new fairgrounds!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/7/10 at 9:05

yes, this debate has been going on a whole lot longer than Dean's been in office. and it's a shame that no one cared enough to redevelop it long ago and let it get in the horrible state of disrepair that it is in now.

By: SirKnight on 4/7/10 at 9:13

By: airvols on 4/7/10 at 9:24

Bulldoze the sucker, clean the lot and move on!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/7/10 at 10:06

By: airvols on 4/7/10 at 10:24
Bulldoze the sucker, clean the lot and move on!

works for me.

By: tdterry1999 on 4/7/10 at 11:29

hey we could put another convention center there.or maybe a more shopping center.or even a Illegal Immigration welcome center there.That would make Gail Kerr and a few others happy.

By: TITAN1 on 4/7/10 at 11:38

idgaf, please show me how we are losing $25 million a year on the Titans and Preds. You have stated this before but I have not seen that anywhere else.

By: bhicks on 4/7/10 at 3:29

As a neighbor and leader in this community, I agree that the voice of the neighbors is
the ultimate voice in this discussion.

It may be true that the fairgrounds doesn't "belong" to the neighborhood, however it is also true that no matter what happens on the property we will always be neighbors.

I find it intriguing that folks who get upset about signs being too bright, grass too high, or when "outsiders" move into their neighborhood are so adamant that this is not about the neighbors of South Nashville.

Spend a summer living in our neighborhood and then say it is not a neighborhood issue.
Maybe you could walk to the fairgrounds with your family and enjoy the giant concrete mess---however you would have to dodge a few cars along the way when you discover there actually no sidewalks here (which you might see as a neighborhood issue...but in
reality is a city issue) and maybe you could become an advocate for this community and
not against it!

Just sayin'

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/8/10 at 8:28

nice comment, bhicks. thanks for being an advocate for the community.