Councilwoman ‘disappointed’ in fairgrounds legislation

Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 4:20pm

In a memorandum sent to constituents Thursday, Metro Councilwoman Sandra Moore said she is “disappointed” Councilman Duane Dominy would file legislation regarding the fairground property, land that is located entirely within her council district.

Dominy, who represents parts of Antioch, has filed a bill that seeks to keep the annual Tennessee State Fair and expo center events at the 117-acre fairgrounds property near Nolensville Pike and Wedgewood Avenue.

The bill is up for first reading next week.

Moore, who represents the neighborhood surrounding the fairgrounds and served on Mayor Karl Dean’s 10-member Fairgrounds Task Force, said Dominy never approached her about the bill.

“I want to make it perfectly clear that I was not asked to co-sponsor this legislation nor was I even informed that it existed until after it had been filed,” Moore wrote. “I have worked for the past three years to ensure that any future use of the fairgrounds property is in the best interest of the citizens of the 17th District and the city as a whole.

“I am frankly disappointed that another district councilmember felt it appropriate to file legislation regarding property that is located solely within my district, but it is within his purview to do so,” she added.

25 Comments on this post:

By: DustyU on 9/30/10 at 4:59

Yeah, who does he think he is!
She should be allowed to torpedo the state fair if she wants to (and she does!)

By: tv8527 on 9/30/10 at 5:02

Why do they want to kill the flea market /car shows/gardening show, & countless other activities that happen there? My guess there will be some new business park or other tax generating venture in the next 6mos.

By: 117_acres on 10/1/10 at 4:08

Thank you Council Lady Moore. It would have been common courtesy for Dominy to at least discussed this ordinance with you before he filed it. Regardless of whether you are for it or against it you do represent the area where this property is located and your constituents are the Nashvillians that are the most affected by it. Thank again.

By: gohomenow on 10/1/10 at 6:24

The whole deal with The Fairgrounds has been underhanded, led by Commandant Karl Ding. I don't know what he has against a Nashville tradition, but I bet it's got something to do with big business.
The fairgrounds issue should be put to public vote, not handled behind closed doors by politicians who didn't even grow up here.

By: 37203 on 10/1/10 at 7:31

This is pretty shabby behavior from Councilmember Dominy. Councilmember Moore has been working faithfully on this process for years. She heard the citizens of her district asking for change at the fairgrounds, and she has convened countless meetings and attended even more. She's listened carefully to all sides, many times over. And she's stepped up to provide some real leadership. I haven't always liked the way the process has gone, but I've always respected Councilmember Moore's role in it. For Councilmember Dominy to just swoop in, from another district, at the last minute? It's disrespectful. And it is obvious grandstanding. This bill should go down on those grounds alone.

By: orangey on 10/1/10 at 8:24

Councilmember Moore has taken real leadership on the fairgrounds property and should be commended for her efforts. Isn't HH mall in Dominy's district? He should show some leadership to redevelop his own neighborhood.

By: localboy on 10/1/10 at 8:39

If Ms. Moore has the votes, what does it matter?

By: Loretta Bridge on 10/1/10 at 8:53

I didn't think the Mayor ever contacted anybody about his decisions. Seems to me that he is more a Dictator than a Mayor.

By: MAmom on 10/1/10 at 12:32

My husband has attended two public meetings about closing the Fairgrounds. He came away with a STRONG impression that Ms. Moore was definitely in the Mayor's camp .... and that she has no interest in saving the the fairgrounds. So her whining now is insincere... a distraction.

If you move the functions to a failed Mall - people WILL NOT follow... if fairground / flea market customers wanted a "Mall" experience - they would go to the Mall..... instead of waiting each month for the Flea Market at the Fairgrounds. Since they will not follow ... this revenue will be lost. Additionally there are crime, traffic, access & egress issues associated with the Hickory Hollow site. The cost to adjust the facilities will be passed to event attendees.

It's easy to slip something like this in ... when no one is paying attention. But people are starting to pay attention... At last weekend's Flea Market THOUSANDS of people signed a petition to stop the Mayor (and Ms. Moore's) plans to kill the Fairgrounds. While I was there I asked people whether they were happy with the Mayor's plan.... vendors and customers alike opposed his plan, some were not aware this was happening, and NOT ONE person wanted this change.

The argument to save the fairgrounds is not just about sentimental attachment to the location - although that is valid also. Fairground activities directly or indirectly bring a lot of revenue to Nashville. Of course fairground vendors benefit from this, but so do other businesses around town. Maybe not as much revenue as in prior years - but honestly ... retail has been down everywhere because the economy is so anemic right now.

So many people these days have indoor jobs - going to the Fairgrounds / Flea Market is a great experience because you get to be outside as you manuever between the buildings and sheds to find treasures.

One concern for me is that so many people are not represented at all in the discussion. People from many surrounding counties and states use the Fairgrounds.

The Mayor lives in Tennessee NOW... but is not from here... possibly he is transitory and will leave at some future time. It would be so wrong for middle Tennessee to let him permanently hurt Nashville by taking away such a wonderful public space like the Fairgrounds.

The council plans to vote on this in the next few months. I think the first meeting is October 4. If you care about the Fairgrounds, please attend. There will be two other meetings later.

Lastly, if closing the fairgrounds and moving it is such a great idea - and since so many people are affected - why not put it up to a vote? (vs. slipping it through the back door while no one is looking).

By: yucchhii on 10/1/10 at 2:25

When it comes to POLITICS, since when are POLITICIANS...FAIR? Dominy as far as I'm concerned did GOOD!!! Even for a POLITICIAN!!! He said that he is there to represent the PEOPLE!!! That's something that ALL these OTHER POLITICIANS SEEMED TO "NOT CARE ABOUT". That inlcudes Karl DINK! Karl DINK only wants to make MORE money as a politician is expected to do. I could care LESS about POLITICIANS...THEY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT "US!"

By: yucchhii on 10/1/10 at 2:29

By the way....Sandra Moore, POOR BABY, Most of us that know about politicians, don't feel sorry about your WHINING!!!! Like I said..."POOR BABY!"

By: Rat on 10/2/10 at 8:17

Firstly, Ms. Moore needs to understand that the Fairgrounds are not the District 17 Fairgrounds. They belong to all citizens of Davidson County and are there for the benefit of not only Davidson County, but all of Middle Tennessee, and the entire state as well. On the average, over 80 Tennessee counties are represented at the fair, and the flea market and other events draw in consumers from the entire region. The Fairgrounds are not a local neighborhood park.

Does Ms. Moore refrain from discussions about the Civic Center, the Auditorium, or Titan's Stadium because they're in another district? It is only right that concerned Council Members of other Districts are a part of this discussion as well.

However, had Council Member Moore been listening to her constituents, she would not have been surprised by Council Member Duane Dominy's submission of an ordinance to further protect the Fairgrounds.

Her district told her during several meetings while developing the South Nashville Plan* that they wished to retain and improve the Fairgrounds.

They told her again during development of the Wedgewood-Houston Report*.

Her constituents voted over 80% to retain the fairgrounds in the poll taken by Markin Associates*.

During the Mayor's jury-rigged fairgrounds task force, of which Ms. Moore was a member, the public and her constituents overwhelmingly told her and the task force that they wished to retain the fairgrounds*.

District 17 has been talking, but Ms. Moore has not been listening.

It is also worth noting that the South Nashville Plan and the Wedgewood-Houston Report, both in favor of retaining the Fairgrounds, were sposored to the Metro Council by Ms. Moore. It's only in the past three years that she has worked against her District's wishes.

There is also the economic impact of over $60 million per year (Metro's figures)* brought in by the Fairgrounds operation, most of it to District 17. Nothing the Mayor proposes will bring in more to the District. In fact, the mayor's announced plans are to export the economic benefits of the Fairgrounds to other districts and other counties.

And then of course there are the 36,000 signatures on petitions to protect the Fairgrounds, something that Ms. Moore seems to be somewhat in a fog about.

So Ms. Moore, the only disappointing part about another council person stepping in with an ordinance to further protect the Fairgrounds is that you yourself were not the first one on the spot to fight in favor of the Fairgrounds.

If you truly wish to represent the majority of your District, and truly want to retain the economic benefits of the Fairgrounds, then you will join in on Mr. Dominy's proposed ordinance for the good of your constituents and the people of Davidson County.

However the vote on the ordinace goes, Ms. Moore should remember that her district will have one more referendum on this issue-- it's called re-election.

* - you can find the written documents supporting these statements at http://fairgroundsheritage.org

By: 117_acres on 10/2/10 at 12:03

Rat, do you live in the District? No, you don't you and you know I know where you live. Council Lady Moore has had meeting after meeting discussing this issue with her constituents. The overwhelming response has been the Racetrack must go and if the fair and expo events stay then improvements must be made and if the City is not going to make those improvements District 17 would support a mix use development. As a matter of fact in 2008 our neighborhood group actually voted to support a mix use development over the status quo on the fairgrounds property.
If the fairgrounds have such a huge economic impact on the City of Nashville where are all the hotels, restaurants, and retail stores in walking distance of the property? One would think that if the events at the fairgrounds have such a large impact on the community businesses would want to be as close as possible to this property.
Rat, Council Lady Moore is a great person and has a loving and supporting heart for all of her constituents, I’m sorry that I cannot say the same things about you. The powers at be long before I or you even lived in Nashville (BTW I'm a lifelong Tenneseean) should have done the things necessary to make the fairgrounds a economically sustainable property but they didn’t and now the study’s have shown that the current uses of the property are no longer the highest and best use for this land.

Rat, you speak so highly of Duane Dominy. I don’t know him personally and he may be a great guy but from what I do know I question is motives behind this fairgrounds ordinance for the following reason.
1. He didn’t start getting involved with the fairgrounds issue until the fall of 2009 right around the same time he announced he was running for State Representative against Sherry Jones which that house district does not include the fairgrounds property.
2. He lives directly across the street from the racetrack lessee Tony Formosa.
3. He filed this ordinance 2 weeks before early voting started in his house race. If he truly cared about the fairgrounds why not wait until after the Nov. election to file the ordinance. Perhaps, free publicity for an under funded campaign?
4. Sterling Marlin has financially contributed to his House campaign.
5. If the fairgrounds Expo events and flea market have such a huge economic impact why would he not want those events to be closer to his district at the Hickory Hollow Mall?
6. What actions has he taken to help revitalize the Hickory Hollow Mall and to improve the fairgrounds?
7. Why did he start a petition to stop the sale of the Antioch Mosque? Was it to get on T.V. or some other reason? Does he realize since he cares so much about the fairgrounds that there are two Muslim Mosques within two miles of the fairgrounds property?
I can keep going on but the fact is this man is playing politics with this property.

In the future I’m respectfully asking you not to personally attack a good person like Sandra Moore.

By: MAmom on 10/2/10 at 10:04

If this is such a super idea - WHY NOT PUT IT UP TO A PUBLIC VOTE? Let the voters decide whether they want the fairgrounds to become a commercial property inaccessible to the public & have present functions move to Hickory Hollow.

And thank you Nashville City Paper for following this story and providing a forum for persons who oppose the mayor's plan.

Since the Tennessean has all but endorsed the Mayor's plan - it is unlikely they will give editorial-page space to dissenting voices OR give this story the prominence it deserves. It will be interesting to see whether any articulate, dissenting opinions the mayor's plan are printed in tomorrow's Sunday Tennessean.

By: MAmom on 10/2/10 at 10:22

From a flyer distributed at last weekend's Flea Market:

A CALL TO ACTION!!!!
Stand up and Be Heard
Call All Council Members and Ask Whether You will Vote
Yes or No To Save the Fairgrounds.

And Attend These Three Very Important Council Meetings
Oct. 4, 2010 - 6 pm,
Oct. 19, 2010 - 6 pm and
Nov. 2, 2010 - 6 pm

BE THERE!

Make the council members STAND UP FOR YOU THE PEOPLE
and NOT the mayor OR their personal gain.

By: 117_acres on 10/2/10 at 11:02

MAmom,
You all have had an opportunity to attend public meeting after meeting the last 5 years. Just curious to know what you have done in the last 10 or so years to improve the fairgrounds property and the area around it? If you are coming in at the 11th hour, you should have been attending meetings with me and Rat over the last 5 years. The City needs the land to create jobs and provide an opportunity to generate more tax base revenue for the City so that the people who live in Nashville can have better services such as public safety (Police and Fire), public schools, and etc. There are no hotels, no restaurants, and no retail businesses within walking distance from the fairgrounds property, so don't try to tell me how much of impact the fairgrounds has on the local economy. If the fairgrounds was a big money maker the area around the fairgrounds would have all the things listed above all around the property. Lastly, not one business owner has ever stood up at a meeting and said if you close the fairgrounds my business will go under or I will not longer be able to stay in business. The one thing constant in life is change and the times are changing regarding this property.

By: MAmom on 10/3/10 at 10:22

Per a Chamber of Commerce Impact study the fairgrounds generate between $50,000,000-$60,000,000 of revenue to the area per year. These monies benefit Nashville and the broader middle Tennessee "neighborhood".

The Fairgrounds property is centrally located, it is accessible, the buildings are separated which makes it easy for vendors and customers to load & unload goods. At any building at the fairgrounds you are only a few steps away from the outside - better access for loading and unloading.

There would probably be no objection to the move if it were to a comparable location. But a failed Mall - ten miles from downtown - in a non-central location - is NOT a comparable location.

This is not meant to slight the Hickory Hollow location - it may be fine for organizations with daily activities (like offices or a satellite college campus) - but not for the intermittant kind of events sponsored at the fairgrounds.

Why can't Karl Dean sell some of the unused commercial properties around Nashville to fund his projects - instead of taking our fairgrounds?

If this were held up to a vote, would Nashville support the Mayor's plans for the Fairgrounds? Unlikely....

By: 117_acres on 10/3/10 at 12:10

MAmom the Chamber of Commerce to my knowledge has not done an economic study on the fairgrounds property and maybe they should. The numbers that you refer to are believed to have been put together back in 2007-2008 when the racetrack lessee at that time Joe Matioli was trying to get a 30 year lease on the racetrack. Matioli hired lobbyist Jeff Diamond (Former Titians General Manager) to lobby the city and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau in order to get that 30 year lease. NCVB came up with the numbers you refer to by taking a formula that they use when assessing tourist events and information provided to them by a fairgrounds employee who is no longer an employee. The results from plugging the information provided to NCVB by the fairgrounds employee were based on the number of events held annually at the fairgrounds not the actual results from those events. So, basically the results were based on what the impact should be not what it actually is. Use a little common sense by looking at the property and seeing that there is not one hotel in walking distance of the property and the closest decent hotel is downtown two miles away. Also, there are no restaurants or other retails entities in walking distance of the property. The Markin study confirmed that the status quo is by far not the highest and best use of the property. If I’m wrong about there not being a Chamber of Commerce study please correct me by showing me the study or directing me to that study. I would also like to know what formula was used and who supplied the information.

By: MAmom on 10/3/10 at 12:17

From a flyer distributed at last weekend's Flea Market:

A CALL TO ACTION!!!!
Stand up and Be Heard
Call All Council Members and Ask Whether You will Vote
Yes or No To Save the Fairgrounds.

And Attend These Three Very Important Council Meetings
Oct. 4, 2010 - 6 pm,
Oct. 19, 2010 - 6 pm and
Nov. 2, 2010 - 6 pm

BE THERE!

Make the council members STAND UP FOR YOU THE PEOPLE
and NOT the mayor OR their personal gain.

By: MAmom on 10/3/10 at 12:21

If you are interested in saving the fairgrounds ... please see the documentation posted at:

fairgroundsheritage.org

Thanks.

By: MAmom on 10/3/10 at 12:23

The Markin Study is posted on the fairgroundsheritage.org website. It does not endorse selling the property.

By: MAmom on 10/3/10 at 12:55

The $50,000,000 to $60,000,000 estimated revenue number (which is at risk) is from a Fair Board Study (not a Chamber of Commerce study). To view their document:

http://fairgroundsheritage.org/pdf/BoardPresentation2309.pdf

By: 117_acres on 10/3/10 at 2:25

http://blog.al.com/blogoftomorrow/2009/01/demolition_begins_at_bir.html

By: Rat on 10/4/10 at 8:29

117-- I don't know which meetings you refer to that you and I were both at, but at almost every meeting I've been to where the public was given a chance to speak, there have been numerous business owners and merchants who have said that the loss of the Fairgrounds would impact their business in a negative way. There is one very prominent owner of a business on Lower Broadway who has been very outspoken about this.

I'm also not sure why you keep talking about businesses and hotels within walking distance of the Fairgrounds. It has nothing to do with anything. And there *are* retail businesses withing walking distance. Walk up Nolensville Road, like I have, and talk to the owners of the restaurants and shops along there. If we followed your logic, I guess we'd have to sell Titans Stadium, because there are no restaurants or motels within walking distance of there either! Events at the Fairgrounds usually include food vendors (furnishing business opportunities to people and sales tax income for the county) but even so, Fairgrounds visitors frequent the restaurants and motels in the surrounding neighborhood, such as over on 8th Avenue and Nolensville Road. I'm also sure the owners of the motels and restaurants in the area will appreciate your comment that the only "decent" motels are downtown.

You really need to go back and finish high school, or at least take some remedial economics and civics classes where you would learn that one reason the public owns property such as the Fairgrounds is because the "highest and best use" will never be a park or entertainment facility. If the criteria for public property is "highest and best use" then I guess we'd better put Centennial Park on the auction block immediately, since it has always operated at a loss of taxpayer moeny, and is in a high dollar part of town. It would bring much more per-acre than the Fairgrounds-- probably balance the Metro budget in one swoop!

Same with Percy Warner Park. That cost taxpayers money each year, and is large enough to develop a whole subdivision in that desirable neighborhood! Yeah! Let's sell Warner Park for a subdivision development!

Of course I'm being sarcastic about selling the parks, but it makes the point. "Highest and best use" is not a criteria to be applied to property owned for the public good! ("Courthouse Condos" anyone?)

Property such as Titians Stadium and the downtown Arena operate at a loss (paid for with taxpayer money each year- over $15 mil. last year!) on the theory that they bring in other business and other tax revenue to the local area. The Fairgrounds, which has always operated with its own funds and never cost Metro a dime, is the same way. It is not designed to be a profit making venture, but one that is generally self-sustaining. The benefits (other than the entertainment value) are the tax dollars and income it brings to the community.

I'm also not sure where you got all that hooey about the economic study and the race track. The study that we refer to was done in 2009 by Metro employees and commissioned by the Fair Board. The Fair Board also paid a consultant over $100,000 to tell them, among other things, that a "mixed use" development of the property would have an economic impact of approximately $45 million per year, *after* spending about $50-$100 million to develop it. This is about 2/3 of what the Fairgrounds *currently* brings in in economic impact. You can also find a copy of the report of this study presented to the Fair Board at http://fairgroundsheritage.org

117, we understand that the Fairgrounds may not be good for your real-estate business in that neighborhood, but sometimes you really need to put the public good above your own personal gains. Try it sometime.

By: MAmom on 10/4/10 at 6:43

Sorry... the brochure I used as a source for the meeting dates above was in error.

According to council member my husband spoke with today - the meeting will be held TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5, at 6:30p. Also said that it would not hurt to be there at 6 - so you can talk to the council members.