When my friends ask me "What is this May Town Center thing and why should I care?" my
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short answer is that it's like Cool Springs but for Nashville. And their short reply can either be summed up as "Cool. So what's your problem?" or "But isn't Cool Springs Cool Springs for Nashville?" or "How will people get there?"
The third question is the most fun to answer for folks who are familiar with that side of town, because once you say, "Well, they're going to put a bridge at Cockrill Bend Boulevard," you can almost script out how it's going to go.
"Rich people are going to live and work there?"
"That's the plan."
"On the same exit as the maximum security prison?"
"That's the plan."
"They are aware that you'll have to drive by a prison to get to the river, right?"
"It doesn't say 'prison;' it says 'correctional facility.'"
And then you wait for the laughter to die down.
But the question of who should care is actually an interesting one.
Residents of Bells Bend--I think it's self-evident why you should care. If this happens, it will completely change the landscape of the Bend. Even if the Bend remains mostly rural, it will not be as isolated as it is now.
Residents of Scottsboro and Jordonia--Regardless of promises to keep OHB rural, you certainly will see more traffic and, if the jobs they promise come, more residents in your area.
Residents of West Nashville--at least one bridge is coming into your neighborhood. You have to decide if you mind the increase in traffic, how businesses in your neighborhoods might be affected, whether you feel that the City has stuck to the neighborhood plans you've worked so hard to come up with.
Residents of Cockrill Bend--Um, well, yes, you're incarcerated, so on the downside, it'll be more traffic with no corresponding increase in family visits. On the upside, a pedestrian friendly bridge will make crossing the Cumberland much easier if you are able to escape and head west.
TSU faculty, staff, students, and alumni--The big benefit to you is that you've been given a nice chunk of change and a nice chunk of land. Two big drawbacks--1. The uncovering of the "survey" done by your students that was actually just advertising for May Town has been embarrassing for you and 2. This great gift of land contains the three big archaeological sites that the MTC developers know about, and their care and preservation are now your problem.
Residents of Bordeaux--This has been pitched as a great way to bring much-needed businesses to our neck of the woods, since all we have at the moment, really, is the Kroger. But if the bridges go in where they're supposed to go in and OHB is somehow kept a small two-lane country road, how easy will it actually be for y'all to get over there?
Downtown Business People--Yes, I know. No one wants to make enemies of wealthy people, but your refusal to openly support this project indicates to me that you feel you have some stake.
Member of the Church of Christ--David Lipscomb owned land out in the Bend. Is it meaningful to you to preserve some of the character of the land how it was when he was there? And, if so, what do you think is the best way to accomplish that?
Anyone with dead people in the Bend--Just on the May Town Center land, there is a still-active cemetery, a slave cemetery, and at least three Native American bural sites (though, as noted, when the floodplain is transfered to TSU, those will be the University's problem). If you are a Muscogee, Shawnee, Chickasaw, descended from slaves in the area, or have some folks in the Barnes cemetery (and if you are Melungeon, you should take a look at those family names) and you don't care about what happens in the Bend, then I just don't understand you.
History Buffs--Don't even make me go into it again. You've got thousands of years of Native American history, Civil War history, maligned ethnic groups history, vanishing rural Davidson county history, religious history, all kinds of history. What do you think is the best way to protect and preserve it?
Fans of the Whooping Crane--They visit the Bend in the winter, you know.
Archaeology Grad Students--Oh, for you the double-edged sword! On the one hand, it must pain you to see these valuable sites under this level of threat. On the other hand, there's certainly enough work in the Bend to keep an army of you busy for a couple of years.
The May Family--The tremendous amount of good your family has done for this city since you got here can hardly be under-stated. And if this works, your name is known to all Nashvillians from here on out and associated with real foresight--You're like Seward with his folly. On the other hand, if it doesn't work, your name is known to all Nashvillians from here on out and you're like William T. Love, with his failed canal.