Fairgrounds backers turn rhetoric ugly as some begin to wonder if anti-referendum effort looms

Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 10:05pm
FairgroundsMain.jpg
Jude Ferrara (SouthComm)

Colby Sledge — press secretary for the Senate Democratic caucus by day, spokesman for Tennessee State Fairgrounds demolition and redevelopment by night, lunch and weekend — was prepared for a certain amount of quarreling when he got involved in the fairgrounds debate last year. Just nothing like what actually happened, he told The City Paper last week.

Things took a turn when preservation group Save My Fairgrounds began a coordinated effort to derail Mayor Karl Dean’s development proposal. Then later, the group successfully petitioned for a referendum vote on the fairgrounds in the upcoming Aug. 4 election. The referendum, if passed, will add an amendment to the Metro Charter that would require a super-majority (27) of Metro Council votes to approve demolition of any fair or racetrack facilities on the land. 

But the argument about the future of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds had become personal well before June 2. That’s when Sledge, head of the pro-development group Neighbors for Progress and co-chair of South Nashville Action People, had his (and the group’s) lawyer, George Barrett, send a cease-and-desist letter to fairgrounds preservation supporter and former publisher of the defunct local newsweekly In Review Boyer Barner, accusing him of libel. 

Sledge said the intent of the letter was to re-civilize the conversation. Some critics, most notably Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin, said it’s an attempt to smear fairgrounds preservationists as belligerent. He also said it could be part of an as-yet-unannounced, full-blown political campaign to defeat the referendum. 

The question of whether to demolish the fairgrounds, racetrack and expo center in favor of green space or a multi-use business park is, in one sense, a heady debate about historical preservation and government’s proper role in business development. In another sense, it’s a glorified zoning dispute. 

And yet it’s taken on polarizing elements of class, race and accusations of high-level political manipulation by the Dean administration, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the local media, and the Tennessee Democratic Party during the course of the debate. To some extent, that has been playing out in council meetings and traditional media. But as usual, the real ugliness takes place on Facebook and in the comment sections of local blogs and newspapers.

Take, for example, Internet reaction to a September suggestion by Dean that fairgrounds property might accommodate a park that could include soccer fields. (Note: In case it isn’t obvious what is being said here, The City Paper will note two things. One, soccer is a popular sport in Latin America. And two, South Nashville has a large and growing Hispanic population.) 

Taken from the preservation group Save My Fairgrounds’ Facebook page:

Ronnie Campbell:“Next year about the time we would all be readying for the AA 400 weekend, you will be able to drive by the fairgrounds and witness hundreds of Illegal Immigrants kicking a soccer ball around on what used to be The Greatest Short Track in America.” 

Taken from the comments section of frequent Dean critic Mike Byrd’s blog, Enclave Nashville: 

User name wintuckjr: “They don’t want to piss off the Mexicans, but it’s okay to piss off the Fairgrounds folks.” 

There are more. Another comment refers to Barner as an idiot. Yet another statistically probable post, according to Godwin’s Law, refers to SNAP as the “first official neighborhood Nazi organization.” In the darker corners of the Web, development advocates are generally cast as snobs, gentrifiers and disingenuous property flippers. 

None of that is so unusual. What prompted the cease-and-desist were two of Barner’s comments from May. The first, on Enclave, called Sledge “a tool of Dean” and “a rat. And a scroungy one at that.” 

The second, more alarming to Sledge, was posted on the Save My Fairgrounds Facebook page. It referred to an incident in May when the scoreboard at the fairgrounds racetrack had temporarily malfunctioned. It was rumored at the time that the problem might have resulted from vandalism. This was later reported as false. 

Barner, who declined to comment for this story, opened with the following: “Colby Sledge probably got drunk one night and went and vandalized the scoreboard.”

How serious an accusation it was actually intended to be, which is debatable, seems beside the point. According to the letter Barrett sent to Barner, that second statement qualifies as “classic defamation” which was made “with a reckless disregard for the truth.” 

“The reason I sent the cease-and-desist letter was — I don’t have anything against the guy, I don’t know him — I’m trying to show that we can have a discussion about this, but when it devolves like it has, there’s a line that gets crossed,” Sledge said.

Sledge added that the penchant for line-crossing among certain fairgrounds preservation supporters has grown more and more frequent recently, since Hollin took over as spokesman for Save My Fairgrounds from departed consultant Darden Copeland. 

“In my conversations with Darden before, I think Darden made a concerted effort to look at the folks who maybe were the most outspoken in a negative way and try to redirect that conversation,” Sledge said. “I think when Councilman Hollin took this effort over, I think there’s been much less monitoring of that.” 

Political strategist Will Pinkston, who Sledge said has been involved with Neighbors for Progress in an informal advisory basis, echoed that theory. 

“Say what you will about Darden Copeland. Even though this was an Astroturf campaign from start to finish, it never got threatening and menacing the way it has gotten lately,” Pinkston said.

Copeland did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But Hollin, for one, disagrees with that assessment. 

“Other than the fact that I don’t know what he’s talking about, with everything that’s been coming out on this — Save My Fairgrounds just went about the job of collecting the signatures — they’re the ones that have been throwing the stones,” he said. 

Hollin pointed out that neither Barner nor any of the other commenters cited by Sledge are officially affiliated with Save My Fairgrounds. 

“To suggest that Boyer Barner or any of these other people has anything to do with Save My Fairgrounds, they don’t. It’s just fundamentally flawed,” Hollin said. “I’m not going to hold Colby Sledge accountable for someone else’s actions. He shouldn’t hold me accountable for someone else’s actions.” 

The real reason for the letter, Hollin suggested, was to garner sympathy for Neighbors for Progress in response to Save My Fairgrounds’ success in getting the referendum on the ballot. 

And the timeline — or the number of actions Sledge’s group took in a few short weeks — appears to lend at least some support to that theory. Hollin’s group turned in its signed petitions on Monday, May 16. Just prior to that, Neighbors for Progress announced that it had hired Barrett — who’s working pro bono, according to Sledge, but on a contingency basis, Barrett told The City Paper — to monitor the Election Commission as it counted the signatures. On June 2, the letter came. Four days later and through Barrett, the group challenged the validity of the referendum petition, in a letter to the Nashville District Attorney’s office. 

It almost feels like the beginnings of an official political campaign — complete with campaign finance, media buys and the other trappings — to defeat the referendum, something that’s been noticeably lacking on the Neighbors for Progress side. Sledge denies that a campaign is in the works. 

“I think right now we’re making people aware of it. We’re asking people to vote against it, but there’s no real coordinated effort,” he said. 

Pinkston also said no effort is under way, since the referendum — which doesn’t entirely preclude the possibility of fairgrounds development — wouldn’t be worth the cost. But on May 16, Sledge registered with the Election Commission as the official treasurer of a single-issue
political group called Neighbors for Progress. 

“I filed that form as we were entering this whole process, just to make sure that we had all our bases covered in case we did decide to do a formal campaign,” Sledge wrote in an email to The City Paper. “As of right now, any campaign plans have stopped solely at that filing.” 

As of this writing, the group has not filed any contributions or expenses; then again, they wouldn’t be required to until the next filing deadline on July 11. Hollin said it’s a clear indication of their intentions. 

“What it all boils down to is pride. I mean, my God, our charter makes the executive branch so damn strong. The council is generally irrelevant,” Hollin said. “The mayor’s never been beat before. He got beat on the fairgrounds. He can’t get away from it.”  

32 Comments on this post:

By: Shane Smiley on 6/20/11 at 1:49

WOW!! I had become a fan of Charles Maldonado. His story "Metro's two-tiered revenue system raises taxing questions"
http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/metros-two-tiered-revenue-system-raises-taxing-questions
Was one of the better pieces of "real" journalism to be published in any Nashville publication in a very long time.
The article was smart, well written, factual, and the many hours of homework on the subject shined thru.
He earned my respect. In fact, I contacted him and thanked him for his fine work.
Mr. Maldonado's ability for homework and fact finding appears to have gone on summer vacation.
This article bears none of the qualities of his prior work.

No one can deny, Emotions have run high on both sides of the Fairgrounds issue.
Unfortunately, when emotions run high, some folks tend to say things that they probably wish they could take back.
I believe each and every one of us can raise our hands and claim guilt for this action at one time or another in our lives.
Go ahead, Raise your hand.

I would bet, if you asked, njmccune would tell you she regrets her comment in the city paper on 7/1/10 at 7:24
http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/fairgrounds-group-upset-over-8000-bill-community-meetings

"This has become a very progressive city, and as such we must move ahead on projects that benefit the entire city. Sad that some old relics must go but that is always the case with progress. Of course we will always have knuckle-draggers! Thank heaven that they are in the minority and we can allow Nashville to become the premier city that it is poised to be."

Knuckle-draggers!.....
Not exactly a comment you would expect from such a fine upstanding citizen in such a progressive and cosmopolitan city.
This was not Mz. McCune's only rant. You can read more in this link:
http://enclave-nashville.blogspot.com/2011/01/another-spurious-attack-on-cm-emily.html

The SNAP and NFP following have made plenty of comments that I'm sure they wish they could take back.
In fact, After deleting dozens of ugly comments directed at the Fairgrounds Preservationists,The moderator for the NFP FaceBook site has gone as far as posting this message:

Neighbors for Progress I know frustrations are running high, but please let's all try to remember to keep our comments civil. This page is public and viewable by everyone, we don't want to give the other side any ammunition - in other words, let's not stoop to their level. We've already "banned" several trolls and deleted many comments, anyone else making rude comments or threats will banned from this page as well. Thank you all for your continued support!
Thursday at 2:49pm

So, both sides of the issue have had citizens speak out and say things spawned from emotion, frustration, and sometimes...anger. It happens.
I believe, in most cases, the administrators of the Facebook pages and comment sections of online stories have done their best to moderate and remove any comments that may not be appropriate.
The NFP site has eliminated many, many comments and banned many users.

I myself was banned from their site for posting information pertaining to the "Special" Fair Board meeting for the TN.State Fair contract. I sent a link with a note inviting concerned neighbors to attend this important meeting. Snap and NFP have both claimed a love for Flea Market and State Fair events. Yet, I was "Unliked" by NFP for posting the information pertaining to this meeting and my comments were deleted. Keep in mind, I was not rude, I simply posted a notice that I thought might be interesting to neighbors who care about their neighborhood and community

Mr. Sledge has commented"Their really is no interaction between the two sides" I promise you folks, The lack of communication exists because Colby and the NFP FB admin have resisted conversations and "Unliked" those who attempt to communicate in a civil manner.

I also find it very curious that NFP, having done such a thorough sweep of their FaceBook site, continue to leave this post:
Eric Rust This is such BS. I swear I'm going to resort to vandalism very soon.
April 25 at 1:54pm

Mr. Rust has had other comments deleted from this site on more than one occasion. Yet, this one stays.
At one point, in a posting conversation with a Fairgrounds preservationist from Goodlettsville, Davidson County,
Mr. Rust told the other poster to "Move that trash(Racetrack) out to where you live so you don't have to drive so far after the Klan meeting to watch cars go around in circles"
Unfortunately, I was not able to screen capture the comment before it was removed by the NFP administrator. It may have been deleted, but, it doesn't mean it wasn't written. My guess is, Someone captured it for safe keeping.

I for one, hate to see this debate get away from the facts and lead to a column in a paper that is one sided and not representative of the people on both sides who have kept conversation civil and working towards a middle ground.

Now, If Mr Maldonado were to put his work clothes back on and dig deep into the Fairgrounds issue, I would say that he is capable of doing the homework and writing an article at least as in depth as "Metro's two-tiered revenue system raises taxing questions" He has the skills to present both sides of the issue in a fair and understandable way. The article above is not representative of the authors skills.

Folks, I have been trying for months to offer and find solutions to the issues presented by the Fairgrounds debate.
I have done so without being rude or crass to fellow citizens on the other side of the issue.
I have done my best to present facts and to be a voice of reason. I hope others will follow suit, from both sides, and focus on presenting facts and our respective messages with respect for the other side and all who are reading or listening.
I'm not perfect. I replied to one poster a few months back that I found her statement"Dillusional" (Confused. Under a false illusion of the truth. Misinformed. Wrong about something obvious.) She took great exception to the comment. I wish I could find the thread. The comment was not directed towards her but towards her statement. My apology for offending her. It was not my intent. Once again, I have worked hard to keep the conversations civil.
Check out the comment stream in :http://www.southnashvillelife.com/2011/02/master-plan.html

Mud slinging is a lot of fun in a 4 wheel drive with a bunch of close friends. It has no place in a conversation pertaining to the History and the future of our city.
I suggest we stick to the facts and let the voters of Nashville decide how they want to vote, based on the facts, on August 4th.

I would welcome to sit down with Mr. Maldonado and Colby at the same time to discuss/ debate the issues and work towards common ground.

As for me, On August 4th, I will vote, Fairgrounds...YES!

By: Shane Smiley on 6/20/11 at 2:29

Am I the only one that finds Colby Sledge — press secretary for the Senate Democratic caucus by day, spokesman for Tennessee State Fairgrounds demolition and redevelopment by night, lunch and weekend, comment to Television interviewers:
" Obviously, I would rather not see it on the ballot" as disturbing?

Read this news 4 story:
http://www.wsmv.com/story/14895239/petition-seeks-to-continue-fairgrounds-events-5-16-2011

This is a member of the State Senate Democratic Caucus stating that he would rather an issue impacting all of Davidson County residents, not be put to a vote of the people.

Comments?

By: Knofler on 6/20/11 at 5:40

Look, the fairgrounds are a property grab by a leftist, global warming alarmist Mayor. Since Mr Dean signed Nashville up for ICLEI, we have been rapidly steered toward the Green Social Engineenering agenda. The Agenda 21, sorry SMART GROWTH as the UN wants it called, wants to do away with all of these types of facilities worldwide.

If any of you dolts that bought homes near the Fairgrounds and don't like the noise, did you your Realtor not tell you there was a racetrack near by? Because you obviously weren't intellegent enought to have done the due diligence on your own prior to purchasing.

By: gdiafante on 6/20/11 at 6:41

Interesting...a story about the acerbic tone this issue has taken and Knofler falls neatly in line. Good article.

By: C.A.Jones on 6/20/11 at 7:23

Great article! I sit and watch this debate from the outside looking in. I can see the "good" in both cases of the fairgrounds and track staying, and the new development they would bring in. The good part about this article, for me, is that it is hard for a reader like me to tell which side of the debate the writer is on, and for The City Parper, that is a rare treat!!!

If push comes to shove, and I have to side with one or the other though... Right now...... I would side with the Fairground people to keep a piece of Nashville history in tact. There's plenty of other places that could be redeveloped into green areas right now.

By: BigPapa on 6/20/11 at 7:23

I would think that when they made this a ballot issue the supporters fully expected a political campaign by both sides.
Dean has no opposition so he can focus his entire campaign on this if he choses. I'd say he makes for a better spokesman than the other side.
The KeepTheDump side do have nastagia on their side, and that's a very strong sentiment. Hopefully Dean can carry the day.

By: glorib on 6/20/11 at 7:45

Although I grew up in Davidson County, I now reside in an ajoining county and cannot vote on the fairgrounds issue. However, I leave dollars on the table at the Flea Market that benefits my home place. I sincerely hope the voters decide the fairgrounds should stay. Sometimes you need to keep a piece of history viable and use part of the property for other development. Can't there be a compromise?

By: bfra on 6/20/11 at 8:27

Although Karl has no opposition, I hope he comes out of this election, "the biggest loser of all times"! Nobody deserves it more. Maybe then he can move to whatever City he is trying to pattern Nashville to be. He has already put the taxpayers too deep in debt and hasn't let up.

By: localboy on 6/20/11 at 8:30

Well, no one can accuse the author of being a wallflower on this issue...

By: budlight on 6/20/11 at 9:13

Knofler on 6/20/11 at 6:40
Look, the fairgrounds are a property grab by a leftist, global warming alarmist Mayor.

You hit the nail on the head;; I want a new Mayor.

Bfra, Karl has opposition; it's just that Karl also has big bucks which are overshadowing all common sense and reality. He will buy this election just as he bought the last one. My only regret is that I actually gave him $100 of my hard earned money. I drank the koolaid without reading the ingredients. That will never happen to me again.

By: girliegirl on 6/20/11 at 9:44

The fairgrounds would be better served in a more rural setting. The current location was just that....back in its day. That property is prime and has an "environmental issue" attached to it, or so I've been informed. The auto racing adds undo carbon and pollution to the area, which racers have laughed at, yet not said they'd switch to quiet electric vehicles immediately....which only tells us that they care NOTHING for the residents in that area. Seriously, it's all just lip service coming from the Keep the Fairgrounds group. The immediate residents want a change. Ask them.

By: girliegirl on 6/20/11 at 9:46

Sidney, there really is a better solution, whether you like the Mayor or not. I've seen it. It offers accessibility and w/o the nuisance of noise pollution and encroachment issues. Gotta hope for reasonable heads to prevail on this one issue.

By: girliegirl on 6/20/11 at 9:48

The residents tried and tried to work with the racer industry...they got promise after promise. Never any follow up, I might add. Thuggery is never attractive, no matter how much money you add to it.

By: bfra on 6/20/11 at 9:58

girlie - How & when did the residents work with the racer industry? What did they do or say? What were the promises and who made them? What thuggery? BT,W. just how many of the residents or racers do you really know?

By: spiderrico on 6/20/11 at 10:34

Attn: Colby Sledge... if you want prove to me that you're not a scroungy rat, I'm listening. And while you're at it, you can add me to the hopelessly flimsy libel suit with which you've threatened Mr. Barner. Maybe Mr. Sledge did get drunk one night and sabotage the scoreboard. It's a legitimate question. Sue me if you don't like me stating my opinion. You'll fail, mind you. But sue me if you'd like.

Nashville needs its fairgrounds. It doesn't need demolishing, it needs reinvestment. It's a civic treasure for many of us and is worthy of preservation. Perhaps it doesn't appear that way for the bluebloods (not to mention those who try to intimidate political opposition through letters from attorneys). But the fairgrounds are important to me. Hail Boyer Barner for speaking his mind and standing his ground.

By: Shane Smiley on 6/20/11 at 10:43

Girlie, The race community is working with the neighbors.
For the first time in known history, the neighbors and the race community have had a part in policy at the track.
It is unfortunate that an out of town promoter didn't listen to the concerns of the neighbors a few years back.
With that said, The Fair Board had the opportunity on many subsequent leases to organize and mandate sound abatement. Write sound abatement into the lease and have a means of disciplinary action if those guide lines were not followed. They did not take action until this year.
This has never been an issue of the race community not caring about the Fairgrounds or the neighborhood.
In fact, Many of the race fans are from the neighborhood.
This has been a management issue. Management being past promoters and the Fair Board not communicating and not taking the concerns of the neighbors to task.

Things have changed.
A sound abatement program has been initiated.
Sound from individual cars has gone from 80 dba to 64 dba. a reduction of 16 dba.
Every 10 dba of noise reduction equals a 50% reduction in sound.
the initial sound abatement program has reduced the sound from the cars by nearly 80%.
If you look at the history of sound abatement programs nation wide, they tend to improve these numbers as technology evolves and users become more acquainted with this technology.
With a long term lease, even more sound abatement measures can be implemented.
These measures are costly and it will require a long term lease to recoup these expensive upgrades. ie. the sound absorbing wall.

As for an immediate change to electric race cars, members of the race community are working to put a demonstration together in the near future.
Asking the entire race community to change over to electric power immediately is akin to asking the entire neighborhood to ditch their gas burners and go electric at the drop of a hat. It is not practical for the neighbors nor the race community. Electric race cars may indeed be the future. However, it will take time. Just as it will take time to change the fleet of every day drivers on our streets and Interstates to make this transition.

The neighbors are calling for progress. Progress has indeed been made.
A progressive idea for the future of the Fairgrounds facility has been proposed by the Save My Fairgrounds community. A plan that encompasses the much needed park, mitigation of Brown's Creek, the modernization of the Fairgrounds facility, and a host of green energy initiatives to educate the citizens of Middle Tennessee while reducing the energy consumption of the property as it continues to service its 1.2 Million + visitors annually.
You can see a rendering showcasing these progressive ideas at the link below.
http://www.savemyfairgrounds.com/images_General/fairgroundsRedev_LG.jpg

looking to the distant past instead of the recent history is not what I would consider a progressive stance.
I hope Nashville will vote Fairgrounds...YES! on August 4th and help see this historic property last for generations to come.

By: RJP on 6/20/11 at 12:45

rjp The sad fact is the vote on the fairgrounds past a vote by the council to keep it for two more years. The racing part is working hard to make it more friendly to the surrounding area.My concern is this, not pulling together and making it work for the city of nashville.And shame on the newspapers for not getting behind the fairgrounds and all the events that it has to offer and putting it in the paper! Life is about people, people getting to know each other and forming friendships.Let's get to work on the park and the creek and turn it back into the gem it deserve's.

By: ds on 6/20/11 at 1:00

A racetrack in that area is not financially sustainable. Nobody is going to invest in something and not get a return on their investment. If the fairgrounds is developed it will be enjoyed by thousands of people EVERY DAY!

By: BigPapa on 6/20/11 at 1:20

Better used as a corporate campus of some type. If there is a strong desire for a race track it would be better situationed far off in the outter reaches of the county, or perhaps in another county.
I cant imagine that even the most ardent supporters would contend that race track should be placed in the middle of town. The idea doesnt pass the common sense test.

By: Shane Smiley on 6/20/11 at 1:31

Big Papa, We are not talking about building a new facility. The conversation and the referendum are focused on saving a property that is already developed. A part of our history, culture, and small business engine.
How can a property that is used by a huge cross section of Nashvillians and middle Tennesseans, 1.2Million+ annually from every corner and social branch of the county, be better used by a select few as a corporate campus?
Taking away from the masses and allowing the use of only a select few doesn't pass the common sense test.

By: BigPapa on 6/20/11 at 2:04

I'd say it's history is looooonnnng past and irrelevant, culture.. no way, small business engine.. nice spin on the term Flea Market.

And I realize that you arent talking about a new track, but the idea of an old track in the middle of town is as rediculous as the idea of building a new track in town. Especially keeping a track that hasnt hosted a meaninful race in 30 years.
Time to move on, tear it down, bring on something new.
For those that think that that delapidated piece of asphault is "historic" they could put one of those Historic Places plaques in front of whatever goes there in the future.. "There was a race track here. Then NASCAR left."

By: bfra on 6/20/11 at 2:54

BigPapa sounds like another poster that, so far is absent today. Thank goodness!

By: Shane Smiley on 6/20/11 at 3:22

I see the reverence for history is where most will disagree. To many, keeping history alive is a part of our responsibility.
Many see the events brought to this property as cultural.
Bead, car, boat, and gun shows are a part of our culture.
Christmas village, roller derby, wrestling, all a part of what makes Nashville unique.

The Flea Market truly does serve as the hub of our small business engine.
There are a number of start up companies renting booth space monthly and taking advantage of the one on one time with customers. The direct feedback has helped new companies refine their products to be more viable in the overall market place.
Take ROOT as an example. They manufacture environmentally safe and effective cleaners. They have utilized the Flea Market to develop their products. I know, I use them and have helped fine tune the formula they use for RV holding tanks.
Another start up that has expanded its business due to the Flea Market is High Sierra BBQ Sauce. They are in a handful of area restaurants because of the exposure they gained at the Fairgrounds.

Many of the start up companies renting booth space are from individuals that lost their jobs in the failed corporate system. These people have pulled themselves up from the boot straps and taken charge of their lives. They are working hard to provide for their families and etch out a living in these trying economic times.

The corporate system has failed many Americans and many Nashvillians.
The Chamber of Commerce states: Did you know that more than 50% of Americans either own or work for a small business? Small businesses also create 60-80% of new jobs!
Sole proprietors and entrepreneurs make up 21.6% of the local economy and live up to the Chamber's brand promise of being the risk takers that fuel the spirit of the region.
Why would we do anything to deter the small business growth in our city? Especially to replace it with a corporate campus or some other type of facility.
As for the track, the last major Nascar touring race at the Fairgrounds was less than a decade ago.
The track still provides as a proving ground for the next generation of superstars in Nascar. Trevor Bayne, winner of this years Daytona 500, cut his teeth racing at the historical Fairgrounds Speedway.
Who knows, in the near future, the property may be in position to host major events once again.
These events bring a huge economic impact to the area. In this economy, we can use all of the help we can get.
The property already supplies $50-60 Million in annual economic impact.
The city can not afford to do away with this income stream. Especially if it is lost in favor of land giveaways or TIF deals costing the tax payer even more money.
Vote, Fairgrounds...YES!! August 4th.

By: bfra on 6/20/11 at 3:51

Shane Smiley: I agree with you 100%, Vote - Fairgrounds - YES!

By: TITAN1 on 6/20/11 at 5:22

BP, as I said before, no matter what goes there, no matter how much taxes it brings in, you won't see a dime of it. Admit it, you don't care for racing, so if it does not serve you personally you think it shouldn't exist. That track isn't hurting anyone.

By: racer84 on 6/20/11 at 6:28

Charles makes no bones about being an immigrant, and apparently he is also in the minority in being a soccer fan. Otherwise, what exactly about my comment posted is considered "ugly rhetoric" ?

Taken from the preservation group Save My Fairgrounds’ Facebook page:

Ronnie Campbell:“Next year about the time we would all be readying for the AA 400 weekend, you will be able to drive by the fairgrounds and witness hundreds of Illegal Immigrants kicking a soccer ball around on what used to be The Greatest Short Track in America.”

What the author failed to do is mention that I quoted from the "Suggested Uses of the FORMER Speedway " property within the hundreds of pages that are the Urban Land Institute's study. Almost word for word.

The ULI states that on the site of the former speedway the city should build a Major League Soccer Stadium for the Nashville Metros along with a soccer complex for the "EVER GROWING IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY" !

So......wonder why that link wasn't included, Seems a discredit that the author was not and is not even aware that the statement is in there. No one knows what's in the ULI Master Plan study...except those of us who have actually taken the time to read it.

So the URL out of Washington DC, with the Nashville Branch being led by DEAN and Developer Bert Matthews thinks that Nashville should demolish the Speedway which represents the MOST POPULAR SPECTATOR SPORT IN AMERICA and replace it with soccer which doesn't even register on the list because it's so low in comparison.

Look at how many other cities highly ranked for NASCAR fans and realize that NONE of those cities have a weekly race track......Thats just more fans that would travel to Nashville if the sport would be embraced rather than attempting to do away with.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2011/02/16/nascar-cities.html

By: Tinman on 6/20/11 at 7:13

How interesting. I posted one reply FOR the fairgrounds, attacked no one, yet stated the truth. I attempt to log in tonight to reply to yet another blatantly biased article by the City Paper, only to find that my account has been changed (deleted?? Not sure).

In any event, "ugly rhetoric" is a loosely used term throw about with reckless abandon by an author who is neither neutral nor unbiased.

Not sure about others out there, but my personal frustration with this entire issue is this: Our legal system has become so broad based that anyone can file any type of order, restraint, suit, etc. that they wish, for any reason, regardless of merit or genuine knowledge of the issue at hand, and as a society, we are to accept it, without question, without the incredulous stares at the articles we read, with total belief in statements issue, in writing or otherwise, by opponents who simply say "This is the truth". Perhaps I am in the minority, but I am certainly not in the habit of accepting what everyone with a computer, lawyer, or lobbyist says as "the law and the gospel" simply because you may or may not hold a higher opinion of your belief than others.

Everyone is ENTITLED to their beliefs, but that in now way means their beliefs are correct, or in the best interest of the majority. Oftentimes lawsuits are without merit, without any foresight, and certainly without any forethought. That is the way our system allows it. However, when I voice my opinion about their ridiculously ignorant claims of others, neither I, nor anyone else, should be accused of "ugly rhetoric". If simply opposing a belief is "ugly rhetoric", then every one of you who has children are guilty of it, guilty of opposing their belief that you are wrong.

In short, the "Neighbors for Progress" group, in my opinion, is comprised of a minority group of people who simply made a decision to purchase a home in an area near a fairground/racetrack without doing their homework first. Is it right to make others pay for their mistakes? I thought we lived in a society whereby we all were responsible for our own actions. If this group is successful in their efforts at changing what has existed before many of them were conceived, then the point is proven that we can do, so, or act however we wish to act, as irresponsibly as we choose............and not be responsible for our actions, but simply file motions to make others pay for our mistakes.

This entire argument is ludicrous, at best, and is a prime example of tax payer money being wasted by those who simply have nothing better to do with their time than to enforce the results of their lack of judgement on others.

Are we all adults here or is the decision making being left up to children? I think the latter.........

In case it is unclear to those opposed to an established institution (as unclear as the established institution was when they moved here, obviously), I support the fairgrounds/speedway, but more than that, I am 100% in favor of reform that will curtail the outlandish activities of others.

Now, please...........quote any "ugly rhetoric" I have posted here, and I challenge you to keep my post this time.

By: Shuzilla on 6/21/11 at 9:34

Well, of course people wanting to keep the fairgrounds are upset. They went from patrons of the fairground site to obstructionist knuckle-draggers simply because the mayor proposed an abrupt change in land use, making their positions relatively obstructive. It's not the advocates of keeping the fairgrounds who have changed anything. It's the mayor who wants change and it's the mayor who needs to sell that change.

He should have begun with a fresh piece of land to develop in a better location, showing pictures and video of a proposed new fairgrounds. He should have sold us cool rides, farmer's markets and happy people. He should have then unveiled plans for a huge water park, or office complex, or movie studio, something we could not do without on the old fairgrounds.

But he did none of that because he had none of that.

Instead, we're supposed to sop up progressivism in the form of ending an established venue that brings about a million people a year, throughout the year, in favor of a blank piece of land that has no plans for further use. The mayor has advanced as if the fairgrounds had been abandoned for a decade, not really knowing or understanding that people actually attend events out there, out beyond I-440, and many of those attendees are out-of-towners spending money here.

Out-of-towners spending money here is why the mayor pressed for a second convention center.

Mr. Mayor, sometimes it's just better to admit your mistakes than to double-down on that mistake, like the public design charrettes that pretend there is a higher and more pressing use of the land than what is out there now (a significant amount of attendees wanting to keep the fairgrounds, though that is not an option given them). Just rebuild the sheds and revision the State Fair that we have into being the finest in the nation instead of striving to do something ubiquitus and uninspired like office buildings and soccer fields.

By: Shane Smiley on 6/21/11 at 11:44

The Fairgrounds referendum will not be won or lost based upon some comments on news articles.
It will be won if you get your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to VOTE FAIRGROUNDS, YES! on August 4.
Be sure to remember, early voting begins July 15!

By: BigPapa on 6/21/11 at 2:40

Obviously one side attracks a certain element of loonies.

By: Tinman on 6/21/11 at 6:57

A once prominent, yet unsuccessful, historical figure said it best: Obstruktionspolitiker Knöchel-draggers.

No difference here.

By: govskeptic on 6/22/11 at 6:25

After taking up half of the posting wordage on this subject Mr. Smiley and
BigPapa reduces the opposition (which is thankfully a great many) to being
called loonies! The Mayor and others thought they could handle this like
it was their personal property, but have found a great deal of opposition
throughout Davidson County both from conservatives and progressives!
A vote on this does not ensure the Fairgrounds will remain, but this
loony will vote to make it a little harder for this Mayor or anyother to make
their own deal or plan for this useful property.