Dean calls fairgrounds master plan vote a 'positive step forward'

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 4:17pm

Mayor Karl Dean on Wednesday called the Metro Council’s decision to create a new master plan to decide the fate of the fairgrounds and its racetrack a “positive step forward.”

The council Tuesday voted to dramatically alter a bill that originally called for the demolition of the fairgrounds speedway. The amended bill, which unanimously cleared the council’s second of three votes, now lacks the “demolition of racetrack” language entirely, calls for the state fair to stay at the Nolensville Pike property through 2012, retains the expo center until a new location is landed and paves the way for the master plan to determine the best use of the property.

The ordinance is up for the final of three council votes in February.

Dean is hoping to redevelop the 117-acre property to make way for a mixed-use development that would be anchored by corporate office space. Most observers believe last night’s proceedings produced at least a minor setback for the mayor and his administration. Nonetheless, Dean still seems to be eyeing redevelopment.

“I have been saying and will continue to say that for our city to prosper, we have to be serious about creating jobs and growing our tax base, and we have to be serious about using infill development to do that,” Dean said in a written statement. “It will never be easy or simple, but it’s something we must do to be able to compete with surrounding counties and other cities and to grow in a way that’s sustainable.

“Last night, the Metro Council took a positive step forward,” he continued. “At the same time the council filed this legislation, we had already decided to take a time out from our plans to relocate the fair and expo center and spend at least a year determining the best way for us to move forward. I believe the council’s decision to develop a master plan for the fairgrounds property is a productive next step.”

In an interview with The City Paper Tuesday, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling also called the new master plan a “positive step forward,” though acknowledged, “You never get everything that you want.”

The master plan, which will require council approval, is to be piloted by the Board of Fair Commissioners, working in conjunction with the Metro Planning Department and Metro Parks and Recreation. The plan is to consider already existing studies of the fairgrounds, including reports produced by the Nashville Civic Design Center and the Washington-based Urban Land Institute.

The plan is supposed to outline the best use for the property. It’s still unclear how long it will take to draft the plan.

"I will continue to talk about the importance of economic development and jobs," Dean said. "I hope through this master planning process we will reach a conclusion that is in the best interest of our city’s overall economic health and takes into account the wishes of the surrounding neighbors.”

28 Comments on this post:

By: shinestx on 1/19/11 at 4:16

Wait till that idiot Sonny West from the codes department (the one who approved the demolition of Evergreen Place "by mistake") gets done with this. That racetrack and the whole fairgrounds will be leveled to the dirt, and ready for Dean's redevelopment plans.

By: fair_minded on 1/19/11 at 4:55

has anyone read the ordinance voted on last night to dean?

did they explain to him that removing the demolition of the race track from the table was a signal that the metro council, bowing to the will of the people, is now interested in a plan to improve the Fairgrounds, not destroy them??

of course dean can "whistle past the graveyard" all he wants, living in the fantasy that everything went his way last night-- he's not likely to be the mayor in 2012, so perhaps it just won't matter too much...

By: hottrodd on 1/19/11 at 8:52

voice of nashvie that karl dean refuses to hear


By: MAmom on 1/19/11 at 10:00

Stakeholders must be REPRESENTED or any plan that is developed will be tainted!

The story says:
"The master plan, which will require council approval, is to be piloted by the Board of Fair Commissioners, working in conjunction with the Metro Planning Department and Metro Parks and Recreation. The plan is to consider already existing studies of the fairgrounds, including reports produced by the Nashville Civic Design Center and the Washington-based Urban Land Institute."

During the Council meeting Councilman Dominy EMPHASIZED that STAKEHOLDERS have to be part of this "master plan" development process. It is necessary to avoid the appearance of IMPROPRIETY.

Stakeholders who should be represented are: residents of District 17, people who have a long-term relationship with the racing, Flea Market, and Expo community, business owners in South Nashville, and customers of Fairground vendors, long-term residents of Davidson County, and others.


By: fair_minded on 1/19/11 at 10:24

And in the stakeholder category, let's remember what this is all about. That property was purchased by a referendum of Davidson County voters "for the establishment and maintenance of a permanent State Fair."

Therefore stakeholders also include farmers, breeders of cattle, horses, sheep, mules, etc. The 4-H and FFA clubs, etc.....

In fact, the Metro Charter, which requires a fair be held on that property states that the fair shall exhibit "as far as possible, the resources of said county and the State of Tennessee, and the progress of it's people in all types of enterprises and endeavor. The agricultural,mineral, live stock, commercial, industrial, and all other interests, shall be exhibited..."

In fact, one of the actual findings of the Marking Study was that the agricultural community, especially 4-H and FFA felt as if they had been edged out of participation for the past few years.

By: MAmom on 1/19/11 at 11:42

The story says: "The plan is to consider already existing studies of the fairgrounds, including reports produced by the Nashville Civic Design Center and the Washington-based URBAN LAND INSTITITUTE.
According to the ULI report which is on the Nashville website and the ULI website: "ULI is committed to bringing together leaders from the fields of real estate and land use policy to exchange best practices and serve community needs, etc."

The report cover page says:
- Nashville Tennessee
-Urban Land Institute

KARL DEAN, BERT MATTHEWS, ALEXIA POE AND RICK BERNHARDT are 2009-10 Fellows of the Urban Land Institute. Information about them from the uli site is below. Their pictures can be found on this webpage:

The ULI report is dated February 8-11, 2010. It refers to the Fairgrounds property as "the recently decommissioned Tennessee State Fairgrounds". Then on page 11 it says: "The fairgrounds and baseball stadium provide particularly interesting circumstances for distinctive redevelopment. The DECOMMISSIONED 130-acre fairgrounds site REMOVES the Nashville Speedway, an automobile racetrack that has significantly affected development of the area. Offering considerable open land for new development, this site connects residential neighborhoods with the Fourth Avenue corridor. The stadium, soon to reach the end of its useful life, etc."

SURPRISE! The ULI... this organization that Dean etal are members of... endorses REMOVAL of the race track and commercial redevelopment!
Below info is from the ULI website. Local 2009-10 Fellows of the Urban land Institute are:

(1) KARL DEAN, Mayor - from Boston - lawyer
(2) BERT MATTHEWS, Chamber of Commerce President & recent ULI Nashville Chairman & Mathews Company President - graduate of UNC - 20 years experience in commercial real estate
(3) ALEXIA POE, Director of the Mayors Office of Economic & Community Development - graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in communication and a minor in political science - spent several years as a television reporter and morning anchor.
(4) RICK BERNHARDT, Planning Department Executive Director - a town planner for 35 yers. Prior to joining Metro, Bernhardt was director EDAW’s Town Planning Studio having also served as Orlando, Florida’s Director of Planning and Development for 17 years. His work with the Southeast Orlando Sector Plan and Baldwin Park resulted in the receipt of the initial Catherine Brown Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Another local on the website: MARK DEUTSCHMAN. Not sure, but wasn't he a "yellow shirt" at the Council meeting the other night? And in the 1/18/11 Tennessean there was an opinion that advocated racetrack demolition written written by a Sherry Stewart Deutschman.
It's all connected.

By: govskeptic on 1/20/11 at 7:59

What bunk!! I'm sure the Mayor is steaming over this upset of his applecart.
Not to be outdone, however, he will play Cat and mouse with this issue until
after the election, with Council cohorts playing along as well.

By: woodbineman on 1/20/11 at 8:24

That's right Karl! Play it off like you are ahead of everyboby.LOL I've known people like that in my life their the ones, you cant tell them anything.They already know! Karl just a word of advise if you live life that way your going to need alot of breath mints cause your foot is going to be in your mouth all the time.

By: Loner on 1/20/11 at 8:43

Here's the take-away line from this article: "Nonetheless, Dean still seems to be eyeing redevelopment.".

The mayor is still unconvinced and undeterred; no doubt, his special interest backers will increase pressure on the guy. The only way to deal with that is to fight pressure with pressure. The pressure of an organized citizenry is tough to resist, even in a town where corruption is a time-honored tradition. Hold your ground!

The mayor and the developers think that their plan has weathered the storm and that once the rabble settles down, they will forget all about the planned rip-off. You gotta show the mayor and his cronies who the boss is.....the people, not the insiders, skimmers and scamsters.

If Dean's plan calls for a ring of new office buildings on the periphery of the 117-acre site....with a "greenways" core, then you know that kickbacks, gratuities and palm-greasing is going on under the table....we are not talking chump change here folks, this is a multi-million-dollar deal. What's Dean's "cut"? What's in it for the Metro promoters of this plan? What's in this for the developers?

Do not be skeptical, very skeptical.

Start a recall petition if this joker continues to try to rip you folks off. While you are at it, call for a full audit of Metro, especially Sonny West's office....time to put the crooks on the defensive, for a change.

By: nash615 on 1/20/11 at 8:51


By: orangey on 1/20/11 at 8:59

I think the real stakeholders are the property owners in the area who have to endure the noise and pollution of the track. More people are irritated by the noise than sit in the stands. The racetrack is a money losing proposition. I don't mind funding someone's hobby with my tax dollars but not at the level of irritation to the surrounding neighbors. A golf course is at least quiet and peaceful. The only noise I want to hear from the racetrack is the bulldozer bringing it down.

By: bfra on 1/20/11 at 9:07

orangey - Unless you are 100+, you moved in on the racetrack, not the other way around! Aren't you "bigboy" enough to know the area before moving in?

By: TITAN1 on 1/20/11 at 9:42

orangey, as bfra said the track was there first and nobody forced you to move there. This is something that is so obvious but I keep hearing and reading neighbors of the track saying the same thing. Whatever happened to common sense?

By: gohomenow on 1/20/11 at 9:49

Sure hope everybody remembers this during election time and goes to the polls and votes this crook out ! He's tried to shaft us on this deal, and his convention center has not created all the new jobs for locals that he's promised.
Bow out gracefully Karl Ding and don't even run for re-election, we're wise to your game.

By: Loner on 1/20/11 at 10:02

Orangey, howdy do.

Orangey wrote, "I don't mind funding someone's hobby with my tax dollars but not at the level of irritation to the surrounding neighbors."

What a nice person...a citizen who doesn't mind funding other people's hobbies with his/her tax long as the irritation is bearable for the neighbors in the vicinity.

I'm not so generous with my tax dollars.

Funding pro-sports arenas, stadiums, ball fields, racetracks etc. with taxpayer funds is "panem et circum" governance - bread and circus. That's what kept the Roman citizens docile and compliant...their republic then became a dictatorship....the dictators provided the welfare and the entertainment....everybody was happy, except for the slaves and the conquered peoples who paid their tribute to the Roman occupiers.

Nowadays, treasure flows from "Rome" into the conquered territories and the conquering citizens pay the taxes, not the conquered peoples. That is not a sustainable paradigm.

By: Loner on 1/20/11 at 10:28

Thank you, MAmom, for that useful information and the links to more. I suspect that that's the tip of the iceberg, MAmom.

Yeah, this thing stinks. Professional zealots versus the People.

Dean's side consists of lawyers, realtors, developers, politicians, wordsmiths and good-looking spokespeople.

The People have their colored shirts.....and modern technologies, like the internet and online forums etc. to help even the playing field. Bumper stickers can be amazingly effective. You gotta organize and prepare for the long slog.....apathy is the People's greatest enemy.

Good luck!

By: govskeptic on 1/20/11 at 10:40

The Urban Land Institute sounded like a Mayor Bloomberg type
organization from the time it was first being mentioned in our
local press. This should come as no surprise to our good
citizens that the Wall Streeting Greed within our city is at a high
pitch. Never mind the local culture, likes or dislikes of the citizens,
let's spend more than we have because there's bonds to cover
the upfront cost, such New England liberal idea!

By: pswindle on 1/20/11 at 11:23

I think that Dean has more sense than to let Sonny accidentally mow down the racetrack. Too many people are watching Dean now. This could be turned into a first class race track with the big racers behind saving it.

By: JeffF on 1/20/11 at 12:47

This has not been a good 4 years for gentrified house flippers. Looks like some of them got caught holding property in this community they hoped would boom as soon as they got the track destroyed.

So sad.

By: fair_minded on 1/20/11 at 1:08

orangy said " The racetrack is a money losing proposition. I don't mind funding someone's hobby with my tax dollars ....."

You keep repeating this lie, expecting someone to believe it. Once again, neither the track nor the Fairgrounds itself has ever received a dime or yours, or anyone else's tax dollars to operate -- I make the distinction "to operate" because the Dept of Agriculture *does* furnish some of the prize money for the State Fair.

As far as losing, you nor the mayor either one can say it's losing because you don't know! The track is leased out-- not directly operated by metro. The fair board sets the amount of the lease, which has been paid each year except for 2009 when the race promoter defaulted on approximately 50% of his payments. But since he was required to post a cash bond for the lease amount, metro still is not losing anything on that single default in it's 100 year history.

Any profit or loss from the racing operation is born by the promoter, not metro, and is their private information. So the fair board and metro have not idea how much the promoter has made or lost at the track. But to give a hint, the promoters keep coming back, and there is a promoter trying right now to have a racing season this year.

The Fairgrounds has been totally self-sustaining for over 100 years.

And you keep referring to it as "someones hobby" -- there are actually quite a few professional drivers who race there as well as some non-professional ones. While a small number, I would venture to say that there are more professional drivers there than there are professional golfers at any (or all) of the several metro golf courses which are paid for with *your* (our) tax dollars. And more than there are professional sailors at the metro marina which we taxpayers fund.

And one thing different about the racetrack that separates it from the preds and the titians (which we have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for in the past several years) is that they will let *you* PLAY!

That's right! Get you a race car, learn how to drive it (which you can get lessons at the Fairgrounds) and you too can play the game. It's not restricted to our-of-state players making millions of dollars each year paid from *your* tax dollars!

By: fair_minded on 1/20/11 at 1:16

The story says: "The plan is to consider already existing studies of the fairgrounds, including reports produced by the Nashville Civic Design Center and the Washington-based URBAN LAND INSTITITUTE"

So we have the NCDC, funded by metro and already the author of a skewed document about the fairgrounds that ignored the majority public input, and the Urban Land Institute, which if you check their member list and statements on their website, is a consortium of real-estate developers and investment bankers.

Neither of these organizations should be involved in the decision of *what* to do at the Fairgrounds. They could perhaps provide some advice and input *after* the decision is made on how to best carry it out, but should have absolutely no part in the decision itself.

Talk about letting the fox into the hen house!

By: MAmom on 1/20/11 at 6:40

A repost of Elswyn's comment to a 1/19 Tennessean "Fairgrounds article:

"Noise" is nothing but a red herring. Auto racing dates back to before 1925 at the Fairgrounds and the banked track was put up in the late 1950s making it a regular event. NO ONE AT THE MEETING last night is old enough to have moved there prior to noise being an issue. It's just a Karl Dean talking point. Like most progressives, Dean goes for emotion - not logic - and cares little for facts if they don't support his position."

"Dean's minions also claim this is a fiscal responsibility issue, with the aim in razing the fairgrounds being to save the poor taxpayers from irresponsible spending. That's a hoot coming from the King of the Music City Center.
Watch this guy, he's very cagey and committed and usually gets what he wants and to heck with what's good for the general citizenry. This is only the end of the beginning of this issue."

By: thetruthwillset... on 1/21/11 at 7:34

Mayor Dean will continue to push for redevelopment as he should. There is no doubt if there was a countywide referendum on redevelopment "the people" - not just those who are close enough to this issue to show up at the meetings, but the taxpayers of the county at large - would vote for redevelopment. That is probably what should happen to just put the whole conspiracy theory business to bed once and for all. Remember, the people voted for the Titans stadium. Sure, those opposed could still complain, and I am sure they still have their theories about crooked politicians lining their pockets, but at least they couldn't claim to know what the people wanted.

Don't you understand that if 68,000 people or 18,000 people or even 5,000 people were showing up for racing, there would not likely be discussion of tearing down the track? The trends for racing are not good - as one commenter said 2009 was the year the promoter defaulted on their payments. The amount the city gets from the lease is tiny compared to the redevelopment value.

This is simple economics for the city, not a conspiracy, not going against the will of the people, not an attempt to line their pockets. Figure out a way to make racing a true economic benefit for the city and for private business people and the money and government attention will beat a path to your door. Want a continued handout from the government in terms of a below market lease and this is what you get.

By: MAmom on 1/21/11 at 8:17

Bring on a countywide referendum about this! The public should know facts from both sides of this "fairgrounds redevelopment" idea & what has transpired the last few years.

Facts like: The Mayor wants the property. The Mayor appoints the Fair Board. The Fair Board decides what activities will occur at the Fairgrounds. And they don't allow racing. That's why more people don't attend racing events - because there are few events to attend.

The racetrack was deliberately kept dormant (or near dormant) in 2010. The Fair Board and DEAN decided there would be no 5-or-6 month race season. (see below for quotes from a 3/10 NCP article).

Several quotes from a 3/9/10 NCP article entitled "Nashville contractor will produce state fair with no racing season":
“It was determined that the traditional five-or-six-month-long weekly race season was simply not financially feasible,” said Buck Dozier, executive director of the fairgrounds. “However, the 14,000-seat grandstand and the ancillary areas, including the track, can and should be utilized for other events for the remainder of 2010.”

The article also says: "Though the state fair will carry on for one more year, the fairgrounds racetrack will not be used for traditional racing events. Instead, fairgrounds officials plan to work with two companies — Fastrax Entertainment and ABC Corp. — to book other events for the stadium. "

By: MAmom on 1/21/11 at 8:23

The last paragraph quoted said: "The Fairgrounds officials plan to work with two companies - Fastrax Entertainment and ABC Corp. - to book other events for the stadium."

How many events did the Fair Board schedule at the stadium in 2010?

By: pswindle on 1/21/11 at 12:02

Keep an eye on Dean. He talks out of both sides of his mouth.

By: MAmom on 1/21/11 at 12:27


The story is in the NYTImes. The writer tried to be fair - but the situation is complicated - and impossible to explain it in one article.

In the story Colby Sledge said: "I feel like it's a David and Goliath thing." But later he acknowledged, "everybody claims they're David."

The Mayor and his employees, the Chamber of Commerce, SNAP, the local Realtors organization, the Tennessean, and the Fair Board VERSUS
people who use the Fairgrounds (the public, racers, Flea Market & Expo vendors).

Who is David?

By: racinmom on 1/21/11 at 4:54

Newyorker1 since you wanna shop and spend your money? We need a Sponsor on our car, and you can spend as much as you want $500.00 weekly for tires plus Fuel, that has to be purchased at the track not to mention weekly maintenance on the car. Oh yeah if we wreck and destroy it we have to purchase another Race Car and depends whether or not you want to have a back up in case. At least $15,000 and thats probably a cheap car. We also need an enclosed trailor for our Sponsor so you don't get to HOT or to COLD depending on the weather. The Track has sponsor night and that could be Dedicated TO YOU! You got enough money, you can sponsor the Track and have a LARGE SIGN on the BACK STRAIGHTWAY. If SHOPPING IS WHAT YOU WANT? LETS GO SHOPPING!! My Driver could use a new Driver Suit and you pick your design and Logo for the car. We need New Autograph cards. I promise you'll want the best for Your Driver. Safety First. I'm sure in New York shopping is a sport. I'm sorry become a Sponsor you will have more fun than you ever had Shopping in the Malls.