Group brings in attorney to monitor fairgrounds petition accuracy

Monday, May 16, 2011 at 12:33pm

On the day Tennessee State Fairgrounds supporters are expected to turn in thousands of petition signatures to hold a referendum to preserve the fairgrounds, an opposing neighborhood group has announced they’ve brought in legal counsel to ensure signatures are valid.

Save My Fairgrounds, operating under the direction of Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin, has until Monday, May 16, to submit approximately 15,700 signatures to add a referendum to the Aug. 4 election, allowing voters to decide whether the Metro-owned fairgrounds should remain intact. An announcement is expected some time Monday afternoon.

But Monday morning, Neighbors for Progress, a group that in the past aligned with Mayor Karl Dean and his efforts to redevelop the fairgrounds, announced it has tapped veteran attorney George Barrett to monitor the fairgrounds petition effort. The announcement, which says the group plans to legally challenge signatures if necessary, came from Barrett’s law office.

“Petitioning government is a fundamental right in our city and country,” said Colby Sledge, a fairgrounds neighbor who works with Neighbors for Progress. “Unfortunately, the group involved with this petition has a track record of organizing protestors from outside Nashville and bringing them into our communities to be disruptive.”

Barrett has a history of engaging in local election matters, having most recently applied pressure to Metro to expedite the redistricting of the Metro Council’s 35 political lines.

All fairgrounds petition signatures are to be turned into the Metro clerk’s office. From there, the signatures will be subject to the review of the Davidson County Election Commission to ensure they came from registered Davidson County voters and meet other eligibility criteria.

“Given the recent history of this particular issue, we believe it is incumbent on the Davidson County Election Commission to carefully consider and verify each and every signature on any petition filed today,” Barrett said. “The Metro Charter is clear: Any signatures must be verified as belonging to ‘registered voters of Nashville-Davidson County.’” 

18 Comments on this post:

By: SouthNashvillian on 5/16/11 at 1:39

At least an attempt at keeping them honest is being made...this "save my faigrounds" thing has reaked of astro turf from the beginning.

By: Doveplayer on 5/16/11 at 2:01

SouthNashvillian, the only thing that reeks is Dean and his people. Sledge and the scant few supporters he actually has are on the wrong track. He is clueless and cares nothing for anything or anyone at the Fairgrounds. I grew up in South Nashville and know the Fairgrounds well. Sledge has been here only a short time and wants to destroy 108 years of history and the only thing Metro owns that is paid for and makes money. To say he's an idiot is an understatement. You really should do your homework.

By: harnessg on 5/16/11 at 2:16

Astro turf? The neighbors were the ones who sent a "community organizer" to the Fair Board meetings; seems they couldn't be bothered themselves to go. This smacks of intimidation. The time to challenge it is after the signatures are certified, not before. But these folks don't have the best interest of Nashville at heart. All they care about is artificially increasing their property values and making a ton of money.

By: nester on 5/16/11 at 2:19

Doveplayer -- 108 years of history? My guess is you're a race fan. News flash -- that property was denied entry onto the National History Registery due to how the paved RACE TRACK was built. It's not historic except for a few great racers who came and went. They were historic.....the track wasn't. I know many people in the area -- they'd love horse racing to return to the property...the TRUE historic use of that track. No one surrounding the fairgrounds minds the idea of fixing it up & leaving the fair & events there, MINUS the racetrack -- most people want the track demolished and most Nashvillians do too. I imagine there will easily be enough signatures to cover -- there are plenty of people who love to voice their opinions without having to deal wtih the consequences. Signing that silly ballot with a blanket statement is perfect for folks who want to feel like they've done something for nothing. Nashville should want more for their something that's supposedly given to them. That property is embarrassing.

By: nester on 5/16/11 at 2:28

Harnessg -- seriously? You're going to attempt to insult the neighborhood people who are interested in bettering a space for their area, and for Nashville -- by saying they're only interested in their property values? It's a no brainer to destroy that stupid track that's an eye soar. It's embarrassing that Nashville as a City has even let this go on as long as it has.... THe message it sends to is that our City is backwards. What about the elememtary school that is in session right now while the cars are not running with mufflers and are interupting study? What about city beautification? The property hasn't cost money, but WILL -- it will take millions to bring it up to code, and that will cost taxpayers. Considering the source, I think it's great that they're going to verify signatures -- Hollin in a sleezey concilman who couldn't even respect the democratic process -- waiting for a master plan. My guess is that the racers know the track won't stand a chance in any master they're funding this latest effort so that "nothing will ever change"..... gee what a promising future for Nashville. Time to let go of something that isn't even worth saving. Don't attack the people in that area - you think you know them, but you don't. Shame on you for assuming that it's about money. Pretty darn weak.

By: SouthNashvillian on 5/16/11 at 3:27

We sent a community organizer to the Fair Board meetings? That's strange, I live in the neighborhood, and I was at the Fair Board meetings (yes, I bothered to go). I sure didn't see any community organizer there on our behalf....Weird.

By: Floyd2 on 5/16/11 at 4:01

108 years of history? My ass. Old does not equal historic. Nothing historic has happened on that track. Don't give us any racing history garbage. If it is so historic, why doesn't Darryl Waltrip buy it and make it a museum? If it's so historic, why have 99.9% of Nashvillians never set foot in the stupid track? In fact, Doveplayer, I'm willing to bet that you don't live in Nashville. In fact, you are probably one of the astroturf thugs that Waltrip has paid in his attempt to get the taxpayers to continue footing the bill for that noisy dump you call a racetrack. Do away with it! That's what most of Nashville wants.

By: CrimesDown on 5/16/11 at 4:27

All along this has been an attempt by a small group of people to steal a piece of property that belongs to all of us. There are different reasons for the attempted theft. A few don't like the noise, a few want their property values to rise and others want the property for financial gain. Regardless of your reasons, the fact remains that the property isn't any one persons, or even a few. It belongs to all of us and the majority want it left as what it is presently. People that have used the property for decades, nearing a century, have been demonised and treated like uneducated hicks, just because they have enjoyed the property as it was intended to be used. If the Fair-board had treated it like it should have been, we would have a polished gem. Politicians have let it plod along unpolished for a long time, in an attempt to gain control of the property for their greedy intentions. The politicians are using the few voices, that for whatever reason want the track and flea market gone, to help them gain control of the property. It insults me and should be insulting to every resident of this county.

By: fair_minded on 5/16/11 at 5:32

Floyd 2 said "108 years of history? My ass. Old does not equal historic. Nothing historic has happened on that track. Don't give us any racing history garbage. "

ok Floyd, here's some fairgrounds history that has nothing to do with racing. June 22, 1910 noted airman Charles K. Hamilton took off from the front straightaway of the race track with a search light strapped to his aircraft and made the first night flight by an airplane in aviation history. Hamilton was flying a Curtis racer, that had recently also just set the world speed record and the world powered flight record.

The property is also the last remaining tract of the original Nashboro settlement. The original owner, John Rains, was a revolutionary soldier who was given a land grant by the U.S. Government.and crossed the frozen Cumberland along with James Robinson to found Fort Nashboro.

He had a blockhouse fort in defense of Nashboro built approximately where the Nolensville Road gate to the Fairgrounds is today.

read the history at:

@nestor said "that property was denied entry onto the National History Registery due to how the paved RACE TRACK was built."

This is not even close to the truth. The reason the Fairgrounds cannot currently get on the historic register is because when the entire Fairgrounds burned down in 1964 it was not rebuilt to the original design. Had it been, it would qualify, paving and all. Should it be renovated in the future back to it's original design, it will be eligible. Just like the Parthenon at Centennial Park is not the original that was built there, but was rebuilt several years later out of concrete. Because it was rebuilt to the original design, it then qualified for the historic register.

By: las04 on 5/16/11 at 9:22

If Colby and SNAP are so sure the city is against saving the fairgrounds it seems to me you would want the voice of the citizens to be heard....I hear a chicken clucking and see wings all are a bunch of chicken s**** cluck, cluck. See ya at the fairgrounds. Let's go racing....!!!

By: Shane Smiley on 5/16/11 at 10:16

The protestors from outside Nashville Colby refers to are lovers of the Fairgrounds activities and a portion of the 1.2 Million visitors enjoying the Fairgrounds annually.
Colby sees them coming into our communities as disruptive. The Chamber of Commerce calls this "Economic Impact". In the case of the Fairgrounds, $60 Million dollars annually, at a cost of $0 dollars to the tax payers of Davidson County.

The NEW Convention center has an estimated economic impact of $120 Million dollars annually at a cost pushing $1 Billion dollars to the tax payer.

I guess Colby sees the Titans and Predators fans from out of county as disruptive as well.

As the press guy for the TN Democratic party, You would think Colby would be the first to embrace the Democratic process of the citizens having their voices heard on election day. Obviously that is not the case when the issue is in his back yard.

The reason there is no dialog between the Fairgrounds community and the NFP group is because Colby doesn't want to sit down. I have offered many times to sit down and have had no reply from the group. I have asked Colby face to face to sit down. He is not interested.

Did the Mayor, all of the Council Members,and Fair Board members sign the petition? It will be interesting find out.
I for one, plan to make it a point to find out and spread the word to the citizens on Nashville. Should be interesting to see how many of our elected officials, all elected by the voice of the people, actually participated in this Democratic process.

If SouthNashvillian, Floyd2, Nester, and the other Nay sayers of the petition to put the issue before tax payers are so sure NOONE wants the Fairgrounds and track, They should be all for the voters of Nashville having their say.

Look at their replies. No facts> Just a bunch of Mud slinging.

A great deal of effort has been put forth by the race community to be better neighbors. The sound from the cars has been cut from 80 dba to 64 dba. Every 10 dba reduction cuts the sound in half. If a long term lease were in place, a sound absorbing wall would be built around the track, reducing the effects of sound even further.
This issue is not about sound. This is about a land grab and a group of self entitled.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/17/11 at 5:41

Does anyone else find it curious that Nester and SouthNashvillian are so worried about the impact of 7 races and a few hand fulls of practice with the muffled race cars (None of which take place during school hours) and yet, say nothing about the impact of 74 baseball games, 62 of them at night, and 22 Fireworks displays this year at nearby Greer Stadium? From living in the area, I can tell you that these late night fireworks displays are house shaking. Beautiful and enjoyable but, house shaking none the less!
I guess the Mayor being a Baseball fan keeps the NFP folks from speaking out against these plaster cracking events or the impact on the neighborhood with the Baseball traffic and sound pollution.
Me, I truly love Fireworks and honestly think the sounds should sound off every home night game with bigger and louder displays. Obviously the neighbors don't mind. Go For It!!!
I know live along the river a few miles from the stadium and love to go out and listen and watch the Fireworks displays. They are a part of what makes Nashville a great diversified community.
There are things in Nashville that I may not care for or want to take part in. With that said, I know many people do enjoy these events. It would be wrong of me to try to stop my fellow citizens from enjoying the events and traditions they enjoy. I am not so self absorbed to believe I am entitled to dictate to those fellow citizens what they may and may not enjoy just because I do not share their enthusiasm for that particular activity.

By: Funditto on 5/17/11 at 7:09

There are plenty of racetracks near Nashville. The site is an eyesore. Let them improve it and keep the flea market and add other events or permanent businesses. Perhaps Waltrip can build a track in his own county?

By: CircleBurner on 5/17/11 at 11:01

Well,this group didn't take into consideration the fact that their going up against racers.A group of people who know how to win,what it takes to win and will sacrfice to get the job done.I'm not just talking about just drivers.I'm talking about drivers,crews,builders,their families and the fans. "Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal. Prepare yourself in every way you can by increasing your knowledge and adding to your experiences, so that you can make the most of an opportunity when it occurs."
-Mario Andretti, auto racing

By: nester on 5/17/11 at 11:53

Shane Smilely get a grip. You are speaking of things you know nothing about. You and others attacking the neighborhood, and Colby should be ashamed!! Neighbors hoping for the very est from their City? That's what being a tax payer and home owner is about. Taking pride in your land, in your county and in your city. That track is nothing to be proud of -- it's a joke.

I am a Nashvillian, and I want something better for a space that all of us will have to PAY FOR because the fund that "hasn't cost payers anymoney?" is about to run out! Tax payers of Davidson County will raise hell when they have to pay for the joke of racing events that runs at this site.

The sounds games don't bother my friends who live in that area. The Preds & Titans games don't either. You're reaching trying to lump EVERYONE IN SOUTH NASHVILLE into some weird anit-living thing just because they want something different, something better -- for that property.

As far as the property being historic? When the propety at the fairgrounds burned own -- they built differently....including paving the track in the manner they did. Greed of racers of that time -- pushing out horse racing -- is the reason it was built that way, and did not make the Historic National Registry.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/17/11 at 3:57

Nice try nester.
I have a good grip on reality.
I have said nothing to attack anyone. I have given my opinion on Colby not wanting to see the Fairgrounds be a part of the democratic process.
The neighbors are not the only ones looking for the very best from their city. I like you, want to see something better. Something better from the FairBoard. They have been terrible stewards of the land and the money at the Fairgrounds.
Take a close look at the Fairgrounds financials and the Millions of dollars that have been drained from its accounts in the past few years. The place would turn a profit if the city would keep its fingers out of the till.

As for the track and racing being a joke, Many will see that as an attack on their sport. Racing is the # 2 sport in the U.S.A.
"The greed of the racers at the time" you refer to equalled millions of dollars in economic impact to this city.
Racing helped put Nashville on the map. Live coverage of racing from Nashville provided the first National spotlight for the city in the sports arena.
I would love to sit down with you, hear your opinions and discuss the issues. Together, we may be able to find some common ground. Let me know.

By: CircleBurner on 5/18/11 at 4:51

"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is."
Winston Churchill

By: Shane Smiley on 5/19/11 at 1:51

Amen, CircleBurner, AMEN!!!