Council bill to explore theme park at fairgrounds derailed

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 9:21pm

As expected, a Metro councilman has scrapped his long-shot legislative effort to call for the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners to explore adding a new theme park at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

At the request of bill sponsor Councilman Bruce Stanley, the council voted Tuesday to withdraw his proposal to require the fair board to solicit bids for the partial development of a theme park at the Metro-owned 117-acre fairgrounds. The bill had arrived before the council on the second of three votes Tuesday night, but its deferral has effectively taken the ordinance off the table.   

In making his motion, Stanley referenced the forthcoming fairgrounds master plan, which the council has already asked make recommendations for uses at the site. Earlier this month, the city started from scratch in its search for firms to oversee the creation of the plan.

Despite the bill’s withdrawal, Stanley didn’t back away from his belief that the fairgrounds property would be better suited to accommodate some sort of theme park to replace Opyland, which closed in 1997.

“I think it’s important for everyone on this council to understand what I and the entire city of Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County have gone through with this stagnant piece of public property,” Stanley said. 

“When Gaylord closed Opryland theme park, the city lost millions of dollars in tourist revenue each year,” he said. “With that, it created a huge void in Nashville’s economy.”  

Most observers believed Stanley’s legislation –– the first filed in the newly elected council –– had no chance of actually passing, but that didn’t stop several local media outlets from giving the bill plenty of attention in recent days through various reports. 

His bill now abandoned, Stanley said he instead plans on filing a non-binding resolution –– which carries no direct policy effect –– requesting the fair board solicit proposals for a theme park to locate at the fairgrounds. 

If such a resolution passed, the fair board would not be required to oblige the council’s vote. 

• In other items, the council elected Councilwoman Erica Gilmore as council president pro tempore narrowly over Councilwoman Karen Bennett. The vote went 18-17. Gilmore replaces Councilman Sean McGuire in the seat.  

Under the position, Gilmore is tasked with delivering council announcement 30 minutes prior to meetings. In addition, she will preside over the full council at meetings Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors is unable to attend.

23 Comments on this post:

By: whitetrash on 10/19/11 at 5:11

This was a terrible idea. Does anyone know if Councilman Bruce Stanley still lives at home with his Momma? If so this might explain his amusement park ordinance. Time to grow up Brucey!

By: govskeptic on 10/19/11 at 5:45

Since the Vice-Mayor packed the Fair Committee with those council members
that have been in favor of the Mayor's plan to get rid of the entire facility, it's no
wonder they voted down this proposal in Committee. With liberal Councilman
Right Rev. Maynard as Chair and Ms. Moore as Vice-chair along with 7 of the 9
members want to rid the city of this facility.

Did it matter that the referendum on the Fairgrounds passed by a large margin?
Not to the Mayor and Vice-Mayor Neighbors, as shown in her appointments to
this particular Committee with it's pre-conseptions matching the Administration's!

By: holleracha on 10/19/11 at 6:25

AS much as I want to save the Fairgrounds I dont think using my tax money to go into business is right either

By: Kosh III on 10/19/11 at 6:29

Why must we spend hundreds of thousands for a "consultant" who is nothing more than someone's buddy who needs some extra money?

Let the Board do the work, it's got a former fire chief and other allegedly competent and intelligent members.

Heck, give me 20 grand and I will gladly tell them what to do. I'll tell them where to go for free!

By: macjedi on 10/19/11 at 7:29

Holler, then you'll get NOTHING. And it will still stagnate. Can't have it both ways.

Kosh, you're so smart, sure. Let's hire YOU. ::eyeroll::

Folks, there is no ROOM for such a venture, nor infrastructure, nor room to create said infrastructure at the site or in the area. While it would be nice to reverse Gaylord's fiscal rape of our city's income, it probably would be better suited in an area with more space to breathe. At least until this infant city and it's toddler citizens learn to stop paving forests and discover parking garages and public transportation.*

*Born and raised, so don't even play that card.

By: macjedi on 10/19/11 at 7:38

http://www.facebook.com/DontSaveTheFairgrounds

By: tenn.Big Dog on 10/19/11 at 8:39

Tenn. Big Dog WELL WE ARE AT IT AGAIN. EVERYONE IS ON THE TRAIN SPONSORED BY THE DEAN ADMINISTRATION. TROUBLE IS NO ONE HAS THE TESTACLES TO STEP UP AND DERAIL IT. I AM OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER FAIR PARK ON THE SITE. I USE TO GO THERE WITH MY FAMILY AND HAVE GOOD MEMORIES OF MY CHILD HOOD AT FAIR PARK AND CASCADE PLUNGE POOL.

NEIGHBORS HAD NO PROBLEM WITH IT BACK THEN AND EVERYONE HAD RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER. IN THOSE DAYS THE AREA OF SOUTH NASHVILLE WAS CALLED VARMIT TOWN. TO ALL OF YOU YUPPIE COME LATELY'S WITH YOUR FEDERAL REHAB LOANS AND STUFF, IT WILL NEVER BE BELLE MEADE. GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSES.. YOU ARE STILL VARMIT TOWN RESIDENTS AND ALL WAYS WILL BE.****** IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT MOVE...MY FAMILY DID 40 YEARS AGO WHEN I-65 TOOK OUR HOMES. EVERYONE WANTS NEW TAX SOURCES. THE WAY THAT MAYOR DEAN WASTES MONEY, I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT HE IS FOR TEARING THE PLACE DOWN UNLESS HE HAS A GOOD GRATUITY PROMISED FROM SOME DEVELOPER..ANYBODY EVER THOUGHT ABOUT THAT?

WHY IS HE SO INTERESTED IN THE FAIRGROUNDS PROPERTY?? IT AINT ON WEST END SO IT DOESN'T MATTER.

By: producer2 on 10/19/11 at 8:53

Theme Parks are seasonal at best. The councilman's numbers on lost revenue is incorrect. the hotel has run at a decidedly HIGHER occupancy level in the summer than when the park was open and the Mall was doing far bigger numbers than the park until the flood (which would have derailed the park as well) There is exactly ZERO evidence that a theme park would create any kind of buzz for the City. In fact what made the park at Opryland so attractive were the shows and music elements and NOT the rides.

It is disingenuous for any council member to make the statement, “I think it’s important for everyone on this council to understand what I and the entire city of Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County have gone through with this stagnant piece of public property,” and have been for the referendum. Wasn't the proposal available at the time intended to facilitate moving the property into a money making development for the City? Sure thought so...

By: Kosh III on 10/19/11 at 9:09

"In fact what made the park at Opryland so attractive were the shows and music elements and NOT the rides. "

Exactly. I knew quite a few singers and pickers who did quite well at Opryland shows and now have to go to Dollywood, Branson or worst of all, get a 9-5 job.

But those weren't the top 40 big money names so Dean and TPTB don't care.

Exactly who is the corporate schmucks that want this property and how much will
they pay under the table to get it?

----------------
Again, why can't the Fair Board do this "study" instead of wasting twx money on some consultant buddy?

By: producer2 on 10/19/11 at 9:27

Again, the park was NOT a money maker for Gaylord and they changed their thought process to go after more convention business and the addition of the Mall gave those folks more of what they wanted instead of a theme park. It has worked out well for them. They are a private company so they do not owe us an explanation. If it was a poor pro forming entity for them what make you think it will be any better now?
I would much rather have folks who live in Nashville working in a corporate campus, spending money at the grocery stores, paying property taxes, and being part of our city than a part time tourist attraction.

By: BigPapa on 10/19/11 at 10:33

"I would much rather have folks who live in Nashville working in a corporate campus, spending money at the grocery stores, paying property taxes, and being part of our city than a part time tourist attraction."

Why people can't see this point of view I will never understand. The FG property needs to be developed and turned into a positive for that area of town, not the cause of blight.

By: nashwatcher on 10/19/11 at 11:03

why aren't they turning this into a corporate campus? it would help stimulate the entire area...

By: Kosh III on 10/19/11 at 12:51

Corporate campus?
There are already many small business people who depend upon this place for their livelihood. I guess a swap meet is too disgusting for the Green Hills crowd?

Downtown has a high vacancy rate, let the corporations go there. If downtown is the perfect place for the Sounds, the Convention Center the Preds etc, then it should be good enough for a corporation. They can probably get a really good rate since vacancies are high.

As to the Fairgrounds, IMHO a theme park is not appropriate, not enough room or parking but I don't favor giving it away to some crony of Dean, Beaman or Frist.

Improve it, upgrade the buildings, the parking, and bring concerts to the racetrack like used to be done.

By: producer2 on 10/19/11 at 1:02

From a recent article in the Nashville Ledger:
“Any given month, 40 or 50 companies are looking at Nashville for relocation,” but the city has few places available for a business that needs several hundred thousand square feet of office space all in one place.
There are many smaller spaces available but the city has little to offer an employer than needs a full floor in a building or an even larger space."

Hence the reason so many want to develop the current fairgrounds as a corporate campus. We need jobs in Nashville and the one sure way to get them is to continue to recruit larger firms to come and create them. Having things like the Titans, Predators, Convention Center, Symphony, Hall of Fame, Museums, Art Galleries, increased public space on the riverfront, shopping, churches, and a low cost of living and tax rate are the reasons so many are inquiring. If we don't have the space they will go elsewhere.

By: govskeptic on 10/19/11 at 1:42

producer2:

The voice of the Mayor and Administration showing up as a regular poster!
You can always count on producer2 to show up to counter any criticism of
His Highness's wishes, and to provide support for any program or building
by said Mayor. Not sure if Metro Employee, but more likely member of the
City's very highly paid PR firm and dispatched to read and spin every story
or comment in favor of whatever the administration wishes happen to be!

By: producer2 on 10/19/11 at 2:02

I am neither but you are welcome to come up with a better idea. Just using the same old lame "he's the voice of the administration" is getting old. Have an idea and be open to those who have a different one than you unless you have facts or statistics that show other ideas are not plausible. What part of the discussion does not make sense to you?

By: Kosh III on 10/19/11 at 2:11

"There are many smaller spaces available but the city has little to offer an employer than needs a full floor in a building or an even larger space."

Puhleez
You can not expect us to believe that there is not ONE highrise in downtown, West End, Metro Center or anywhere else in town that doesn't have a vacant floor.

I can think of several spots where corporations could build or reuse existing buildings. Blocks of town with vacant land or buildings.
Of course it's not downtown, or close to Forest Hills so it doesn't matter..........

By: Kosh III on 10/19/11 at 2:14

If we want to take empty city owned land and GIVE it to a corporation for development which produces jobs and taxes:

Percy Warner Park, at least the steeplechase area which is used ONE time per year as opposed to the fairgrounds which is used all the time.
Or Shelby Bottoms
Or Edwin Warner
Centennial Park sits smack on a busy street with good freeway access and will soon have a fancy new streetcar or rail line. Ducks and tourists don't need this seasonal use land.
I can think of several other city owned properties which could be converted. So could you.

By: producer2 on 10/19/11 at 3:24

please site one example of a building that can house a company the size of HCA. something that employees several thousand people and takes a campus as large or larger than their current one in Midtown.
So far all you have accomplished is to show parks that are used for and by the citizens of Nashville and tried to make those the areas that should be developed for a corporate campus. I don;t think those two things are similar and I am pretty sure that the fairgrounds won;t be confused as a green park anytime soon. Although I do believe that a small portion of the space was designated to become green space in the administrations original plan.

By: boyer barner on 10/19/11 at 11:37

The idea for a theme park at the fair grounds is ridiculous.

I am a supporter of the fairgrounds. I'd like to see investment in the area (new or improved buildings) and a long-term contract given to operators of the raceway. As many have said, the fairgrounds is where a variety of events can be held at an affordable rate for both promoters, vendors and attendees (dog shows, car shows, craft shows, amateur sports, etc.).

Much of the land could be turned into a park-like area that could used for daily recreation, but it could also be available for special events (like the Tennessee State Fair), as well as the larger, regular events that have been held there for years. (For those of you who complain about all the asphalt, I agree. Let's turn it into grass, which can serve as recreational fields, or parking, when needed).

I would not be surprised if Mr. Stanley's proposal was dreamed up by the Mayor's office or McNeely, Piggot & Fox, to further drive a wedge between people on the future of this wonderful piece of Nashville.

Don't let those aforementioned fools, fool you.

The fact is, via the referendum, the people have spoken.

We want an improved fairgrounds area.

By: bfra on 10/20/11 at 2:37

producer will respond, as soon as Karl or his pr machine get back to him!

By: Kosh III on 10/20/11 at 6:39

Prod

First you say there is not one empty floor in downtown, then when I challenge you by replying that downtown has a high vacancy rate, you suddenly change it to building.
Make up your mind.
There is ample mostly level unused land in other places as well, all along Myatt Drive in Maidson---easy access to I-65, on OHB near Rayon City, 100s of empty acres next to DuPont(CORPORATION!) along Swinging Bridge Rd--even got for sale signs on it.

It doesn't matter if the Fairgrounds is a green space or not. It's used just as much, if not more than Centennial, Warner Parks and Shelby Bottoms. The only difference is that Centennial is flat and not flood prone, the Fairgrounds is both.

I guess the many many small business people who depend on the Fairgrounds should just go eat cake?? Corporations Corporations uber alles?

By: producer2 on 10/20/11 at 8:31

not everyone wants to locate where you want them to. It's their money so they get to choose....and we hope they choose Nashville.