A pair of Metro Council members on Friday filed separate but very similar amendments to a bill that would help settle the future of the 117-acre fairgrounds property. The key difference: One would all but forbid racing at the site.
Filed as two separate substitute bills, each would require that a new “master plan” be developed to determine the future of the Metro-owned site. Both would keep the Tennessee State Fair at the fairgrounds until 2012 and cancel the demolition of the Fairgrounds Speedway, called for in the original bill.
But the amended legislation filed by Councilwoman Sandra Moore, the sponsor of the original bill, includes a clause that would forbid the fair board from entering into a contract to allow auto racing at the site unless a council majority approves a master plan that permits that use. The other bill, filed by Councilman Jason Holleman, does not include such a measure.
“I just don’t think that’s necessary language,” Holleman said.
Both include new amendments that would keep the state fair at the property through 2012. The fairgrounds expo center, meanwhile, would remain at the site until a new location is identified and approved by the council through a resolution vote.
Council committees will be considering the amendments early next week, before the legislation heads to the full council on the second of three votes Tuesday night.
“The amendments came out of considering what was said at the work session on Jan. 8,” Moore said, referring to a council gathering last weekend.
The fair board would have to work with the Metro Department of Parks and Recreation to create a master plan for the future development and operations of the fairgrounds and its surrounding area.
As outlined in the proposed amendments, the master plan would have to address the following: provisions pertaining to the construction of the site’s already-approved 40-acre park; recommended modification and/or removal of existing facilities; planned development of the site for mixed-use purposes; recommended zoning or land-use policy changes for the site and surrounding areas; and suggested infrastructure improvements for the site that would “enhance the economic viability and livability of the area.”
The plan, which would take into account existing studies of the property, would need council approval to become a reality.
At a special fairgrounds work session last weekend, several council members expressed concerns about the bill and asked that the ordinance be deferred for at least one more council meeting. But some questions are addressed in these amendments, a clear indication that bill sponsors plan to move forward with a vote rather than requesting a deferral.