Last night's contentious Metro Council meeting demonstrated (as if nobody knew) just how hot tempers are running over the fate of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Here's Joey Garrison in the City Paper:
Mayor Karl Dean’s plans to redevelop the city’s 117-acre fairgrounds were on trial Tuesday night, as dozens of citizens spoke up against the mayor’s proposal to turn parts of Hickory Hollow Mall into a new expo center.
In a rare procedural move for an ordinance on first reading, the council voted by a 31-6 margin to hold an impromptu public hearing on a Dean administration-endorsed bill that outlines a set of leases that, if approved, would allow the former Dillard’s building at the Antioch-based mall to house flea market and other events currently held at the fairgrounds. Dean has indicated he hopes to bring a mixed-use development to the fairgrounds property, perhaps anchored by corporate office space.
With fairgrounds preservationists already in full force to attend a demonstration prior to the council meeting, about 40 citizens took the microphone. Some took exception to the financing behind the move. Others questioned whether Antioch is an appropriate area for an expo center or if the former Dillard’s building is structurally sufficient. All urged council members to reconsider signing off on Dean’s plans.
Several of us at the Scene live close enough to the Fairgrounds to be affected by what happens there. None of us agree what should be done. I hear (or heard) the racetrack noise but wasn't bothered by it; yet I can understand why others (especially those living in the immediate neighborhood) would be.
So without resorting to name-calling, conspiracy theory and ad hominem attacks on either side, would someone like to make a case in the comments section why Nashville needs to either keep the location and mix of uses the Fairgrounds has; adopt the plan proposed by the Dean administration; or find/suggest a hitherto unmentioned alternative? We've been through this before, but obviously the debate is nowhere near settled.