When the bill to authorize the Metro Development and Housing Agency to begin purchasing land for the proposed new convention center came up on the consent agenda at Metro Council’s Tuesday meeting, only one Council member was willing to debate the bill on first reading.
That member was District 22 Councilman Eric Crafton, who said he intends to raise his concerns about the Mayor Karl Dean administration’s step-by-step approach to building the estimated $635 million Music City Center at every opportunity.
Like all bills on first reading, the convention center bill was expected to pass on the consent agenda, but Crafton pulled it and delivered a four-minute speech criticizing the project.
“Probably people never want to debate this, they’d rather just sweep it through,” Crafton said. “But I’m going to bring up the truth every opportunity I get.”
Last year, Council unanimously approved the pre-development planning phase for Music City Center. Now Dean’s administration wants to begin land acquisition so the process can move forward.
But Crafton — and a few other members — believe that Council should wait until a comprehensive financing package is presented before approving land acquisition. Crafton equated the step-by-step approach to approving Music City Center to Metro Council being caged like a buzzard, which can’t escape.
“Council is getting boxed in to the point where we spend $5 million or $6 million to do a study and we spend $75 million to buy the property and before long we look like fools if we don’t approve the project,” Crafton said.
Crafton went on to suggest Metro taxpayers would ultimately be on the hook for Music City Center no matter what financing package is presented.
District 10 Councilman Rip Ryman immediately called for the previous question after Crafton’s speech, thus cutting off further debate, and the bill unanimously passed on first reading.
State of Metro to proceed
Despite Dean’s administration missing the filing deadline to pave the way for the State of Metro speech, the event will go on as planned. Council suspended its rules and passed a resolution approving the delivery of State of Metro.
An objection from a single member would have postponed Dean’s speech.
The administration missed the filing deadline, but the resolution was passed unanimously without objection. The speech will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday in the upper level of the bus routing station Music City Central.
May Town studies approved
Council unanimously approved a resolution accepting a $125,000 grant from the developer seeking to build the $4 billion May Town Center development in rural Bells Bend.
The grant will be used to pay independent consultants who will conduct two separate studies, which were requested by the Planning Commission when the zoning proposal was deferred last year. One study will be conducted regarding the economic impact of the proposed May Town Center development on Nashville’s economy. The other study will address the impact of traffic on west Davidson County.
The resolution’s sponsor, District 1 Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr., whose district includes Bells Bend, called the studies necessary for the Planning Commission and Council to make their decisions regarding whether to approve May Town Center, or not.
The proposal will be in front of Metro Planning in the near future, the developers have said.
Bill to punish habitual parking offenders advances
A bill to allow Metro Police to boot illegally parked vehicles owned by habitual parking offenders passed second reading.
The bill would allow police and parking enforcement officers to place boots on cars owned by individuals with multiple outstanding parking tickets.
The bill’s sponsor, District 13 Councilman Carl Burch, said Metro is missing out on about $1 million in unpaid parking tickets.