I’ve made no secret that I don’t care very much for Eric Crafton as a councilman. I openly supported his opponent in the last council election. I don’t care for his English-First proposal, mainly because I can’t quite figure out what overwhelming problem Nashville has that he’s trying to fix with it.
Anyway, this morning, I’m flipping through the channels, and the local government channel was playing a rerun of the zoning meeting that concerned the May Town Center. And I see Eric Crafton on my television speaking, so I thought I’d stop and hear what he had to say.
Mostly, he was arguing in favor of deferment, the politician’s favorite tool. But he said something in the process that has been in the back of my mind for a long time. I’m paraphrasing here.
In effect, his argument was this: Nashville, especially the Metro Council, has long had a dream of a vibrant urban core. A LOT of money has been spent of infrastructure and development to lure people downtown to live and work.
The vast majority of the money Metro has spent to accommodate the building of this hip, urban, yuppie paradise has come from folks in the General Services district. It had to, because the people were not living downtown when we embarked on these projects, and some would argue that they STILL aren’t there in any numbers that would make any impact on government coffers.
I would argue that a great chunk of the tax money collected from the General Services district is spent in the Urban Services district – specifically the central core. ESPECIALLY when you take out money for public schools. I’d venture to say that very little of what is left is spent in the General Services district.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the recent sidewalk plan. (Thanks, Councilman (Councilperson? Councilwoman? I never know how to word it) Emily Evans, for posting this).
The deck is stacked against suburban areas – private schools are not considered “pedestrian generators”, only public schools. Suburban commercial districts do not receive the same weight as urban ones.
Councilperson Evans doesn’t mention it (probably because I THINK half of this problem is outside of her district), but Highway 70 desperately needs sidewalks between the bottom of Nine Mile Hill and the Bellevue Kroger. In the last 10 years or so, apartment complexes have been built along Highway 70 that have totally changed the usage of the road. Now many people, including unaccompanied children, walk along this extremely busy highway, creating a very hazardous situation. I fear that without sidewalks, somebody is going to get killed.
Yet, according to the criteria in the Strategic Plan, this stretch of road isn’t even on the radar for consideration for sidewalks.
It’s tax reappraisal year, and there’s a good possibility that our tax rates will go up this year as well.
Frankly, many of us are getting tired of being sugar daddies for so many pet projects of councilpersons who represent other districts. We’d like to see a significant increase in infrastructure investment in OUR neck of the woods.
That being said, I don’t think the answer is to turn the western part of town into another Cool Springs. The May Town Center is an AWFUL idea. Those of us who live in the suburbs do so because we like, well, places that are arranged like suburbs. If we didn’t, we’d move downtown, or to Cool Springs, or some other place that wasn’t as spread out, or wooded. We LIKE it here.
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the central core as a visitor as much as anyone else. I am excited about everything going on there. I don’t mind paying for it.
But, I don’t think we should build our Urban Paradise to the exclusion of the needs of the people who are paying for it.
I thought it was noteworthy that I actually agree with Councilman Crafton for once.