A disgruntled neighbor responds
I am truly amazed at all of the half-truths that have come out of this situation ("Snakes in the Garden," April 14). Did the neighbors on Gale Lane complain to the state? Yes, we did, for the simple reason that what had started out as a most noble idea had in fact turned into an uncontrollable mess.
But here's where the story goes wrong. Mr. Herring claimed he didn't have enough time to clean up, and not enough help to do it. The real truth is that when he was told (back in February, by the way) of all the code violations he had committed, his reply was "I don't have to answer to codes." The state then informed him, yes, you do. He was given two other ultimatums to comply with codes and just clean the place up, but he refused. I find it rather odd that when it all hit the fan, so many people came out of the woodwork to complain. Where were those people when all that needed to happen was to just clean the place up? That is in fact all we as neighbors ever asked for. And yes, it had gotten completely out of hand. Nobody talks about the fact that in the cleanup process, two large dump trucks full of trash were taken out of what was called the "tool shed."
Nobody is disputing the good things that Mr. Herring has done for the community gardens in the past. If you go back and actually do some real investigative reporting you will find that the original charter was for a "Neighborhood Garden," not Nashville's public leaf drop. It is always a sad day when we have to watch our hero's fall from grace, but the sad truth is that it happens all the time. Mr. Herring decided he could call the state's bluff, and everyone can see the result. So I ask, is this about a few disgruntled neighbors? Or is it about one of our neighborhood heroes just losing his way?
I live on Clayton Avenue, one block from what's left of the George W. Carver Food Park ("Snakes in the Garden," April 14). I have no association with Mr. Herring or EarthMatters, but have always been proud to see the composting and gardening operation chugging along in my neighborhood. I sympathize with the residents on Gale Lane to some degree, as the site had come to look messy in recent years. But any unbiased observer must honestly admit that leveling it with bulldozers was overkill. All the reports I've read state that EarthMatters was given a May deadline to clean up the site. It's still April.
In my opinion, it doesn't matter that the site was in violation of Metro Codes, or that the place had come to look like a farm (take a drive outside Davidson County, folks — farms are messy), or that EarthMatters was up until recently an unregistered charitable organization. Big deal! We live in a city that for many years burned garbage to generate electricity for its downtown, in constant violation of EPA regulations; a city that has no significant composting operation; one that still doesn't even pick up glass bottles at curbside for recycling. EarthMatters is a group of good citizens who cared enough about the environment to take the kind of action the city has failed to take. They have meager resources and no political connections, yet for 20 years they've been fighting the good fight, trying to drag Nashville kicking and screaming into the 21st century. So what if they got a bit sloppy? Did any of you fine concerned citizens who continue to so defiantly defend your victory over these scofflaws ever offer to help them clean up the mess? Did you ever make a donation or get involved in any way other than to complain to the state?
Congratulations to the residents of Gale Lane who got their wishes and saw the mess cleaned up. Now how about doing the neighborhood a favor? Let's all shake hands and help the well-meaning people of EarthMatters build a community garden of which we can all be proud.
Thank you very much for Brantley Hargrove's piece on Mary Catherine Bradshaw ("A Matter of Principal," April 14). If you are interested in pursuing this further, it would be really interesting to see how many of the MNPS students are even accepted into Vanderbilt. Word on the street is they recruit pretty heavily out of state.
Also, I will pay you $5 if you find one Chamber of Commerce family that has a child in an MNPS high school. Of course, the mayor's kids have to go to Harpeth Hall.
All this to say, if we are catering our public schools to Vanderbilt and the chamber — why? I think their support is lacking. It would be interesting to see if the numbers prove me right.
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