I would love to see you on February 28th at Hermitage Steak House at 5:30 PM for my Donelson-Hermitage-Old Hickory fundraiser supporting my candidacy for At-Large. It’s not too late to purchase a ticket or add your name to the host committee.
As you may know, there’s so much up in the air surrounding the legislature and its relationship with Nashville right now. Regardless if the effort to shrink Council passes or not, we will need an At-Large representative that’s dedicated to improving and modernizing the functionality of our city. I’ve already been working on the issues that are necessary to improve the accessibility, transparency, and support of legislative functions in order to maintain an efficient and effective Metro Government. Most recently, I worked to secure funding as part of this project to improve the second floor of the Metro Historic Courthouse, which is necessary to improve the functionality of the Council, the Clerk, and the public’s ability to engage with Councilmembers. Staffing issues, technology needs, constituent support services, and implementing onboarding and training support for Councilmembers will continue to be a top priority for me as an At-Large member.
I hope you will stand with me as I continue my endeavors to build a city and local government which uplifts and supports every individual who calls Nashville their home.
Mark your calendars for January 5th, and join us for a fundraiser on January 5th at 5:30 pm at Maggiano’s.
Thanks to the generosity of supporters like you, our campaign has incredible momentum. We have to keep it up though, and that includes reaching our fundraising goals! If you haven’t had a chance to support the campaign, please considerpurchasing a ticketor joining the host committeefor this event today.
Lincoya Hills Neighborhood Association will have a second meeting on Saturday, July 16th from 10am-noon to discuss the same two topics. The first is to review the traffic calming program recommendations with neighbors and talk about next steps after input from the last meeting. The second topic is to further discuss the Contextual Overlay, which is the only tool in the toolbox that is available to protect the character of our mid-20th century neighborhoods.
We learned from a member of the Planning Department last time, and it was requested that a team member from Codes be at the next meeting to address those specific related issues. So, be sure to attend this meeting and spread the word to neighbors. As stated before, I currently have no intentions of filing any bill to implement an Overlay for Lincoya Hills. This is purely an educational meeting, and the neighborhood will need to further discuss if this is the direction they’d like to take or not.
Lakeland Drive, Emery Drive, Donelsonwood Drive and Fitzergerald Drive neighbors – If you haven’t signed the Traffic Calming Petition or have any questions, please contact me. As soon as 70% of neighbors sign the required petition, traffic calming can be installed on your streets. If you’re reading this and know of a neighbor who lives on one of those streets, please help reach out to them and make them aware of this process and to contact me with any questions.
A wonderful partnership between the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion and WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 will happen on Saturday, August 27th when they present Roots On The Rivers music festival. Gates will open at 2pm for an afternoon and evening of community vendors, food trucks, a beer garden, and no surprise, six hours of great music from friends of Roots Radio.
Maggie Rose and Lera Lynn are among Nashville’s most cutting edge singer songwriters and sound creators. 49 Winchester from Appalachian Virginia is blowing up out of their regional base on the strength of their celebrated new album Fortune Favors the Bold. Nashville’s soul star Mike Farris will join transplant Nicki Bluhm and veteran country outfit The Lost Trailers to round out a pretty dreamy day of tunes.
The single-day mini-festival reflects a partnership with the Cumberland River Compact’s Root Nashville program, which aims to plant 500,000 trees across Davidson County by 2050. Ticket sales support programming on WMOT. Tickets are $45 and accessible here at this link. If you’re a member of the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion, you get a $10 discount. Email me for a special link for Friends members
Please don’t forget the August 4th election is fast approaching. All information is located at www.nashville.gov/vote. Below is the schedule. Make a plan to vote!
Please be sure to check out a sample ballot on the website. It’s a long ballot. There are also four Metro Charter amendment proposals on the ballot. I’m advocating for voting in favor of all four. Council Member At Large Bob Mendes does an excellent job of explaining them. Check out his blog post about it here.
Good news to share and important updates this newsletter. First and foremost, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. AsafeNashville.org continues to be Metro’s information site for COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Here’s a great PSA from the TN Council for Development Disabilities featuring our State Representative Darren Jernigan and State Representative Sam Whitson supporting everyone to get vaccinated. It’s the fastest way to end this pandemic.
A major piece of good news is for Two Rivers Mansion’s 14-acre property and all our community. The long-awaited event center, to be located behind the mansion, was funded in Mayor Cooper’s recently released Capital Spending Plan. The Master Plan that Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation, Metro Nashville Historical Commission and the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion put together several years ago to support its preservation and advancement identified an event center as a needed investment to capitalize on the success of the total renovation at the mansion and renewed interest and excitement in hosting events there. This will help keep the mansion preserved while being able to host larger events that also will be a larger revenue generator. This has been a priority project of mine since I’ve been in office and this investment will be transformational for the property and the future of the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion. Stay tuned for more details to come.
There is a website dedicated to explaining the required redistricting process we’re going through. Visit it here. Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census, Metro Nashville must re-establish the boundaries for Metro Council and School Board districts. The new districts must be balanced in population and follow traditional redistricting criteria, in conformance with federal, state, and local rules. The Metro Charter assigns responsibility for redistricting to the Planning Commission, which makes its recommendation to the Metro Council for adoption. Draft maps have been released on the website and you’ll notice the 15th District will likely move our borders both further West and East. Here’s the highlights:
Our northern border (the Cumberland River) and southern border (I-40) are both mostly staying the same. We currently have a small section of 37217 south of I-40 along Spence Lane and the northern part of Murfreesboro Pike east of Spence Ln. The 37217 section will likely go to the 16th District and the 15th will extend its southern border along I-40/I-24 to the overpass where they split.
The Western border shifts almost to downtown. There isn’t any additional population picked up with this expansion, but it does put City Side in a contiguous district.
The Eastern border shifts to a cleaner line between 14th and 15th District along Stewart’s Ferry Pike. Both CM Rhoten and I agree this is a better line and keeps Cloverhill in one district, as opposed to being split between two currently.
I’m comfortable with this first draft as it relates to the proposed changes to our district, but there is time to submit your comments via the website. From a broader perspective, the data and this draft shows where the population has grown across the county, areas that haven’t grown as quickly, where gentrification has occurred the most, and much more. You can also view the proposed changes to the school board districts.
More good news of new restaurants and eateries coming to Donelson. Edley’s announced they will build their largest location at 2717 Lebanon Pike in the totally renovated building owned by Kurzynske & Associates. Also, in this shopping center will be Yeast Nashville, a wonderful bakery. Both these developments will occur sometime in the first part of 2022.
I am excited that our Metro Nashville Office of Arts + Culture has launched a Call to Artists for the two public art projects that will be located at the new Nashville Public Library Donelson Branch. See the graphic below about these two wonderful opportunities for local and national artists. For more information and the application, visit here.
The library project team has been working hard on finalizing the design of our new library and we are close to an unveiling. Stay tuned for more details to come in the weeks ahead.
The next sidewalk project that should start for our district is the Old Lebanon Pike project, east of JB Estille Rd to Lebanon Pike. This was funded a few years ago and glad to see this important connection move forward. It’s currently out to bid and the contractor should be selected early next year, and the project should start and end in 2022, if all goes smoothly. This project should create a mid-block crossing for McNamara’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, like how Party Fowl has on the other end of Old Lebanon Pike to make crossing the road safer from their additional parking area. Remember the Sidewalk Tracker is a good resource to track projects.
Through the hard work of Neighborhood Planting Captains Jenny White in Lincoya Hills, Marie Anderson in Maplecrest, and Erin Duvall in Maplecrest working to recruit neighbors for trees in the district, Lincoya Hills is receiving 55 trees and Maplecrest received 76 trees. All 131 trees were delivered to the recipients’ yards during the week of October 11. Most recipients opted to plant their own trees, and Root Nashville staff assisted those who requested help. In March 2022, additional neighborhood trees will also be coming to Merry Oaks through the efforts of onboarding Neighborhood Planting Captain Esmeralda Figueras, an AmeriCorps service member.
Checkout the “Homegrown Origin Story: The First 5 Years” a recently created retrospect on a beloved Donelson hangout. Big thanks to Robin Davis, Jennifer Starks and team for bringing this wonderful taproom and restaurant to our community. The video was beautifully done, and I was honored to be among the neighbors interviewed for it.
There is a great project coming from The Donelson Gateway Project and neighbors in Elm Hill Acres. Thanks to the leadership of Elm Hill Acres’ neighbor Rick Haley, he designed the below improvement to the end of the Briley Parkway south ramp at Elm Hill Pike near the entrance to Elm Hill Acres. This site has been a persistent problem aggressive panhandlers and drug use. With help from TDOT, the area has been cleaned up and this project will keep the area beautiful and welcoming. If you’d like to support this project, The Donelson Gateway Project is a 501c3 and donations are tax deductible. To donate, please contact Rick Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Venmo at @Rick-Haley (last 4 digits of phone number is 5061 for verification). A tax letter will be provided to you for tax write-off purposes.
MDHA is now accepting applications for its Home Repair Programs and Weatherization Assistance Program from qualifying Davidson County residents. For more information, including the application, qualifications, and eligible projects, visit their website and see the below fliers for more information.
As many have heard, NES is creating a program called Power of Change to support the Home Uplift program, providing weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades to homeowners who need it most. You most opt OUT of this program if you choose. Everyone is opted in as it rolls out in January 2022. See this link here for more information on eligibility and how to opt out.
The Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce will hold their annual Holiday Market at the Mansion at Two Rivers Mansion on November 19th and 20th. See flyer below for details.
Everyone should be receiving their 2021 reappraisal information in the mail soon if not already. As you’ll note in the packet in the graphic below, growth has not slowed down, even through the pandemic Here are two graphics with heat maps that compare the 2013-2017 growth vs the 2017-2021 along with very important information about the reappraisal process, which is mandated by State law.
As you’re probably aware, the State mandates the reappraisal process to be revenue neutral, so as the values go up, the tax rate must come down. That also means that if you’re above the average countywide reappraisal rate, the impact to your property taxes is that they usually go up. If you’re below the median increase, they generally go down. Check out our tax rate compared to Tennessee’s four biggest cities. You’ll note the impact of the reappraisals over the years.
A lot people were understandably upset at the 34% tax increase last year. It couldn’t have come at a worse time due to pandemic and economic shutdown. Among the financial issues we have, the biggest one is that we haven’t managed the tax rate well. If you’ll note on the 25-year tax graph, historically after the appraisal occurs and affects the tax rate to go down, the Mayor and Council will nudge it up nice and easy in the years afterwards to account for growth. That didn’t happen in 2017 and we were left with an unsustainably low rate. We hadn’t nudged the rate up since 2012 and should have done that so we wouldn’t have been looking at such a stark increase last year (which was still 30 cents cheaper than it was in 2017). So, here we are again with an appraisal that shows rapid property value increases, which means the rate will drop back down to historic lows. Yes, we have issues with overspending and too high of debt, but our overall financial outlook is strong if we can keep our hands tight on the reigns of the tax rate. We’re still operating with fewer Metro employees than we had in 2003. We have a lot of work to do to manage growth and ensure it is benefiting everyone. When you add the impact of the pandemic and the economic shutdown, the trillions of dollars that has come from the federal government assistance to states, cities and local municipalities, we have to be laser focused on stable fiscal management, which means budgeting thinking about the long term and not using federal government assistance to balance our budget. That would be dangerous as those funds will not be here forever and we need to focus on those funds supporting schools, small business, out of work neighbors and other critical areas so we can get through the pandemic’s impact. We will get through this together.
The Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market returns for the 10th season at Two Rivers Mansion on Friday, May 7th at 4pm. This is a treasure of an event for the community and hope you will make plans to support it every Friday through October.
The Donelson Gateway Project needs your help for the annual spring cleanup. “Many hands make light work”. Meet at the Briley Pkwy / Lebanon Pk site on Saturday, May 8th at 10am. We can disperse to other sites as needed. Thank you for your support of keeping Donelson beautiful!
The Buchanan Family Festival Fish Fry & Flea Market will be May 15th at 11am. See flyer below for details.
The annual Phil the House with Arts and Friends at Two Rivers Mansion will be on Sunday, May 16th from 1-4pm and will feature the photography of local resident and Friends member Doug Almy.
I’m now fully vaccinated and encourage everyone to do the same so we can get back to opening the city back up 100%, all our kids back in school and put this pandemic behind us. All COVID19 related info, including how to sign up for vaccine appointments can be found here.
Finally, I will be sending out another newsletter about two rezoning meetings coming up (one for a single family home development at 2600 Pennington Bend Rd and the other for condo developments at 2842 and 2850 Lebanon Pike) plus an exciting community event on Saturday, May 22nd. So, stay tuned to another newsletter on the heels of this one once I firm up dates and details.
This newsletter’s Neighborhood News section is about honoring people. At the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber’s second annual Influencing Women Awards Gala, a few 15th District community members were honored. Big congratulations and well-deserved awards went to Nicole Vaughan with the Heart of Donelson-Hermitage Award, Kerra Bennett with the Woman to Watch Award, and Laurie Eakes Ford and Mill Creek Mercantile with the WOW (Woman-Owned Workplace) Award. Congrats to all the well-deserved winners. Photo credit to Sarah Boyce Photography.
Big congratulations to Eli Beaird on his Academy of Country Music nomination for Bass Player of the Year!
Finally, I’d like to honor a great Donelson neighbor and one amazing musician. Jim Williamson passed away recently after a battle with cancer. Jim was an incredible trumpet player and he led the Nashville Jazz Orchestra. His repertoire and musical experiences were vast and he played with so many musicians here in Nashville. He loved and supported Donelson and will be sorely missed.
Our second term began smoothly and as Mayor John Cooper’s administration takes shape, so does Metro Council as leadership roles have been assigned and elected as well as committee assignments have been made. In addition to serving on the Budget & Finance Committee and continue serving on the Parks, Library & Arts Committee, I was also honored and humbled to be elected President Pro Tempore (“Pro Tem”) of Metro Council, which serves as the presiding officer should the Vice Mayor be unable to serve.
Here are a couple pictures from the inauguration. This first one is great as these are your representatives from the Donelson-Hermitage-Old Hickory area. District 14’s Kevin Rhoten, District 11’s Larry Hagar, District 12’s Erin Evans, District 13’s Russ Bradford and yours truly. I’m very thankful to Judge Lynda Jones for swearing in all the Council Members at the inauguration as well.
In addition to our standard committees, Vice Mayor Jim Shulman has created several special committees to tackle specific issues. Learn more about all the committees here. I’m glad to be part of the committee looking into how we can better engage our neighbors in the voting process. Remember that you can register or update your registration online here. Be sure to stay close to www.nashville.gov/vote for all voter information when the next election cycle comes about, which will be March 2020, a special election for Metro Trustee to complete the term held by Charlie Cardwell, who passed away while in office. Parker Toler, 15th District resident, was appointed by Metro Council to fill the seat. Parker will be running in this special election and I will be supporting him.
I will be hosting two community meetings coming up in regards to proposed developments. They are:
Tuesday, November 12th at 6:30pm at Donelson Presbyterian Church to discuss a proposal two add two limited service hotels as part of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) as part of the original Bridgestone Building in Craigmeade.
Thursday, November 14th at 6:30pm at Grace Nazarene Church in Pennington Bend to discuss a proposal to build 32-town homes on Pennington Bend Road.
As you have likely heard by now, there will be an increase in our water rates. Here is the breakdown of the main points about this.
Metro Water Services operates as an enterprise fund: revenue comes from rates and fees charged to customers. With this money, MWS pays for operating, maintaining, and funding capital improvements for the water and wastewater systems.
Nashville’s last water and sewer rate increase was in 2011. Prior to that increase, MWS had not raised water and sewer rates for 13 years. In the past 10 years, operating costs have increased 30% and capital needs for maintenance and upgrades have increased as well.
MWS has been forced to scale back on capital activities due to a lack of funding. Bidding had to be delayed on 16 designed projects and design on more than 50 additional capital projects was postponed.
In 2018 the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and the Tennessee Water and Wastewater Financing Board found MWS’ water and sewer fund to be “financially distressed” and instructed MWS to complete a rate and cost of service study (report) and provide a plan of action by August 31, 2019. This study has been completed and submitted as required.
For the past 20 years, MWS rates have been among the lowest in the nation as well as our region, and with the proposed increases, our rates will remain among the lowest in national averages and will align with our regional utilities.
More than 65% of our water pipes and 58% of our sewer pipes are over 40 years old. We must begin an aggressive program to replace a percentage of water and sewer pipes each year.
Due to our aging and failing sewer infrastructure, MWS is required to invest an additional $1.5 Billion in Nashville’s sewer system to meet the demands of the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA, and TDEC Consent Decree. Compliance with the Consent Decree is the purpose of the Clean Water Nashville program.
The proposed rate structure is cost-of-service based, encourages wise water use and conservation, and provides for affordable drinking water for essential residential use.
Costs have been allocated between customer classes based on their estimated usage and demand requirements and recognizing the different costs associated with serving different customer classes.
The tiered residential structure encourages wise water use by charging more for discretionary water use.
The majority of residential customers will see an increase of $9 or less; Less than 20% of residential customers will see an increase over $15.
In addition to the new rate structure, development related fee increases are also being proposed. In 2009, development fees were decreased 50% due to the economic crisis. Although cost studies were periodically completed, development and other fees were never re-established to recover costs.
Stormwater Fees will not be affected. SW fees were modernized in 2017.
The rate and fee adjustments must be effective January 1, 2020. This date is reflected in the study provided to the Comptroller, which will be presented to the Water and Wastewater Financing Board in November. As a result of this meeting, it is likely MWS will receive an order from the Board to implement the plan.
A residential rate calculator, Infographics and additional resources are available on the website here.
Open Houses will be held for commercial customers in November. Dates TBD. Notification postcards will be mailed to all MWS commercial customers.
Thanks to each and every one of you who donated to the homeless camp clean-up and supply drop organized by neighbor and homeless advocate Jon Rizzo, Open Table Nashville and me and to the neighbors who came to help with the clean-up, show some love to our homeless neighbors and restock their supplies for the winter. Open Table is a wonderful organization and all extra supplies will be all used directly to serve the homeless. Big thanks to FiftyForward Donelson Station for hosting the two collections bins as well as Mark and Kevin at Donelson Café & Catering and Treasures Consignment for all their assistance as well. Check out just one picture of your generosity! The boxes were full again, so thank you so much.
Well, it was quite a surprise to open the Nashville Scene’s “Best of” 2019 edition and see that I had been voted third best Council Member. Thanks to everyone who took the time to put my name forward. I do love the job and continue to be humbled and honored to serve.
I was honored to be selected to be part of Leadership Music’s Class of 2020. Now in its 31st year, this is a wonderful organization bringing leaders in the music industry together from all over the county. I’m very humbled to have been among the 40 selected from over 300 applicants. I really look forward to engaging in this next class of music industry leaders and believe it will help me serve Nashville to an even greater level. Here’s a picture from the opening orientation that was held at BMI.
I receive a lot of inquires about the site work being done in the vicinity of the Buchanan Log House. This is all property owned by the airport. This is not for any construction of the area or for any airport-related construction project nor is it for the I-40 / Donelson Pike interchange project (that may start towards the end of next year). It’s purely site work to help remove invasive species and improve the stormwater flow. There is a small parking lot being constructed for events at the Buchanan Log House. The roads interior to the property are being removed as shown in the plans below.
Before we get to the specific news sections below, I want to take a “moment of personal privilege” (as we call it on the Council chamber floor) and just say how proud I am of my son Joey, who recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout. My Dad was instrumental in guiding Joey with his Eagle project, so this picture of them together in front of Two Rives Mansion where his Eagle Court of Honor was held is very special to me. Also a great picture is State Representatives Darren Jernigan and Bill Beck supporting Joey with a resolution from the State House of Representatives and were there at the ceremony to present it along with a State Flag flown above the State Capitol in Joey’s honor.
Led the community in updating the Community Plan along Lebanon Pike from Spence Lane to Briley Parkway to prepare for growth and development.
Led the Pennington Bend neighbors and Opry / Music Valley area businesses in improving Holiday traffic both short term and with long term infrastructure needs.
Engaged Metro Parks & Recreation to submit a Capital Improvement Budget request to fund a Master Plan for the historic preservation and future development of Lock Two Park.
Worked closely with River Glen Home Owners Association to address post-May 2010 flood issues and their infrastructure needs.
Worked with Metro Arts and Parks & Recreation to engage local artists to create the “Bridging Two Rivers” murals along the Stones River Greenway at the entrance to the tunnel under Briley Parkway.
Worked with Holladay Properties leading to acquisition of Donelson Plaza and collaborated to put together vision for its revitalization to include $15 million new Donelson Branch Library and $4 million for associated infrastructure to improve road network and add sidewalks. Click here.
Sponsored legislation and worked with property owners in the district to support them in bringing new, vibrant businesses to the community, including:
Sponsored multiple legislations accepting grants from the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion for administrative support and staffing during Summer and Christmas tours here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.