An auto racing compromise put forth by neighbors of the Metro-owned fairgrounds is the subject of both praise and ridicule from council members, one day before the five-member Board of Fair Commissioners is set to vote whether to have racing this season.
The organization South Nashville Action People, which has taken exception with the noise generated by cars at the fairgrounds speedway, has offered a set of terms for racing for the next two seasons. The fair board is scheduled to consider two different proposals — one from promoter Tony Formosa, the other from former NASCAR drivers Chad Chaffin and Bobby Hamilton Jr. — at a Tuesday morning meeting.
Under SNAP’s proposal, racing would have to occur only on weekend dates when the fairgrounds’ flea market is open; events would conclude by 6:30 p.m.; mufflers would be mandatory; noise levels would be continuously monitored; and a special exemption would be required to hold events when nearby Fall-Hamilton Elementary School is in session. Besides one exception in October, creating noise in excess of 75 decibels would subject the lessee to a $2,500 fine. A second violation would be grounds to terminate the lease.
“If followed and enforced, we as members of SNAP and the surrounding neighborhoods believe this proposal is reasonable and is offered in the spirit of goodwill that Nashville embodies,” said Colby Sledge, who chairs SNAP.
The proposal also establishes a three-member neighborhood advisory committee — one member appointed by SNAP, another by the Tennessee State Fair Association and the other by Councilwoman Sandra Moore, who represents the area. At any point, the committee could recommend the termination of the lease to the fair board.
“I, of course, have no idea if the two entities who want a lease from the board will agree to these conditions or not,” fair board chair James Weaver said. “But for me at least, these conditions seen very, very reasonable.”
In a statement, Moore said she believes the board would reject both racing proposals if they were to lack buy-in and support from the neighbors.
“That my neighbors were willing to compromise for the good of everyone involved is heartwarming,” Moore said. “This proposal represents everything that I love about my neighborhood and my neighbors. They did not have to meet halfway on this issue but did.”
But other council members say the neighborhood group would enjoy too much authority with the proposal, highlighting the part of the compromise that gives the committee the ability to recommend the termination of the lease.
“This neighborhood group is being given not only apparently voting privileges, but sole veto power,” Councilman Duane Dominy said. “I find that to be a violation of the power granted to the fair board by the Metro Charter, and inappropriate.
“A bunch of it is foolish,” Dominy said of the proposal. “They want to have race days on flea market days. You can’t park for some of the flea market events now. Where are we going to put the additional people? It will do one of two things: It will destroy the flea market or it will destroy racing.”