With the State Fairgrounds fate all but sealed, Councilman Eric Crafton plans to file a resolution to postpone its demise and a separate ordinance he says would “save the fairgrounds.”
The ordinance would prohibit any use other than what currently operates at the 117-acre property off Nolensville Pike, effectively keeping it intact. It would require three separate Metro Council readings and a public hearing before taking effect.
“Everybody can’t afford to pay a $100 ticket for a Titans game or afford to go to the symphony,” Crafton said. “Some people would like to enter cakes in a state fair contest or go to the fair, a race, or a flea market.”
Mayor Karl Dean has said he doesn’t see the city backing a fair for the foreseeable future, as its reserves have dwindled from $6 million to $1.3 million in just a few years.
A representative of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has confirmed she has shown the land to corporate executives for potential purchasing and relocation. Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling told WSMV-Channel 4 that Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America Inc. is interested in the property.
“I just don’t think it’s right to take public property like that and give it to a for-profit business or any other type of business,” Crafton said.
If the ordinance doesn’t pass, Crafton’s resolution would order the fairgrounds to operate through the end of 2010, as opposed to June when he believes the Mayor’s Office plans to pull the plug entirely.
He said his resolution, requiring just one Metro Council vote, would allow the Tennessee State Fair to operate one more year.
“If you’re hell-bent on shutting it down at least wait until the end of 2010,” Crafton said. “(The fairgrounds) might make money; we might want to change our minds. That would help people keep their jobs. We could keep the fair one more year.”
Though the Tennessee State Fair is said to have taken place for the final time, the Metro Fair Board still oversees monthly flea markets and building rentals on the disputed property.
Both the ordinance and resolution should be drafted and signed in preparation for the Nov. 17 Council meeting, Crafton said.