Tolerate thy neighbor
I gather from the story ("For Whom the Bell Tolls?" July 12) that there is no evidence the Murfreesboro mosque is linked to any Islamic political or terrorist organizations. I am not fond of Islam either, particularly because of its treatment of women (which seems to range from condescending paternalism to outright oppression and even violence), but I don't see that any reasonable cause is being served by trying to eliminate the mosque. How exactly would that make American Muslims any less dangerous? It would just make them angrier, with good reason.
Allow a mosque to be built, treat it as a part of the community — thus making it more visible and transparent — and you eliminate a major cause of enmity. If you like, monitor the mosque as much as the law allows, for actual — not imagined — ties to organizations that practice violence. Will the mosque convert some people who are currently not Muslims? Sure, probably. But if you add religious oppression to this situation, you get instantly angry, alienated Muslims rather than members of the community who happen to be Muslims. I think the movement to stop the mosque is both an affront to freedom of religion and a persistent attempt by anti-Islamists to shoot themselves in the foot.
Hill street blues
While I appreciate the intent of the article ("The Hills Have Eyes," July 5) to balance what appears to be a well-intentioned developer against neighborhood concerns, there are some significant issues not included. Something the article doesn't reference is how this project will cut off the possibility of future access from 12th Avenue to the Waverly/Belmont School property behind it. The Detailed Neighborhood Design Plan and other studies have identified this as the prime spot to have pedestrian access from 12South to an urban infill park/greenspace/community services building.
It also doesn't mention that there is only one vehicular access point to the site, which is at mid-block on 12th Avenue, so all traffic entering and exiting the property will collect at this location. This means (at least) 90 residents in the apartments, all retail traffic and all service traffic (both deliveries and civic services like garbage) have one point of access. Try turning left onto 12th right now between 4 and 6 p.m. — it's already a daunting task.
I appreciate the history H.G. Hill brings to the community, and have been in favor of several H.G. Hill/Southeast Venture projects in the past, and have known members of the project team both personally and professionally for years. I also like that a storied Nashville company is developing in the area. But I don't think this project is right for the neighborhood and adjoining community, however well-intentioned. Some light informational meetings were held after the project parameters had been set, but at this point no input was required for permitting and continuance of the project. At the very least, some collaboration in the design stage with other developers and architects/designers who have worked in the context of 12th Avenue would have demonstrated a good-faith effort to address contextual issues of scale, program, logistics, historical aesthetic, etc., and provide the developers with an understanding of the neighborhood's desired direction, not just what can fit into these three parcels.
Sadly, [Jimmy] Granbery is probably right that this development will further the steamrolling of gentrification in the area, and this could eventually lead to more projects of this stature, followed naturally by incoming residents who are drawn to this type of development in a gentrified, dollar-driven environment. The rest of us with shallower pockets who were attracted to 12South because of its charm and diversity will have moved on. I would love to be proven wrong on this, but after many years in the architecture and planning environment in Nashville neighborhoods, I feel these neighbors' concerns are all too valid.
We should all give credit to Mark Deutschmann, Joel Solomon, Will Shuff, Christy Shuff, Whitney Ferré, the Howell Family, Paul McRedmond and others who saw a vision in the mid-'90s and led 12South to evolve into the neighborhood residents and visitors now know and love. These community-minded individuals took a chance at the same time that H.G. Hill was selling its property on 12th years ago. The irony now is that some of these folks and like-minded businesses and homeowners are struggling to maintain their involvement, because of the dollar bills in the eyes of landlords ready to cash in. Who's to say whether that's good or bad, right or wrong — it's reaping what you sow.
Jay Luther remembered
When Jay ("An Empty Setting," June 21) was a waiter at Cakewalk (late '80s) he occasionally helped chef Debra Paquette in the kitchen. He manned the pantry station, appetizers and salads. He was always a happy guy, always wanting to help.
There was never a kitchen uniform at Cakewalk, and Jay had to be the only person who was so into it that he would call Debra to ask what she was wearing to work so that he could coordinate.
That's my share, because I've never forgotten it, and the utter joy it gave us.
What a terrible tragic loss.
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