Jeff Syracuse

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Let’s Work Together to Create a Better 2021

Dear Friends,

The recent insurrection attempt at the US Capital shows that the complexities that arose in 2020 are not yet in the rear-view mirror.  Many have asked about reports of continued protests and rallies that may turn violent.  The below letter from MNPD Chief Drake was received by Metro Council Members.

January 11 Letter To Metro Council

There is an understandable amount of anxiety and frustration about the rollout of the vaccine.  As with all things related to COVID-19, this website is your best local source to follow Metro Health Department processes and find when your eligible timeframe for receiving the vaccine is here and how to sign up.  That’s also the place to continue to get the latest information on testing centers.  Further helpful information at the State Department of Health here is a good resource as well.

As you may have seen, I’ve been on the news a bit to talk about the uptick in crime, mostly stemming from our hotel / motel and hospitality businesses in the district.  As mentioned to the media, some of this is not new to an uptick we see around the holidays, but certainly some is attributed to the ancillary issues from the pandemic.  I have worked hard at establishing a stronger communication network between our Hermitage Precinct and hospitality businesses and has already shown to have some efficacy.  It will be a monthly meeting focused specifically on how our hospitality businesses can unite together, apply best practices of managing their parking lots guided by the Hermitage Precinct, share resources for being more proactive in protecting their properties, and utilizing improved technology to create a faster, more effective communication network to all area hospitality businesses and MNPD when an incident happens.

As you have likely noticed, we have an uptick in homelessness issues in the district and new camps have been set up in various locations.  Homelessness is one of the most complex issues to deal with and must be done with sensitivity and support for our unhoused neighbors.To that end, I am hosting a virtual community meeting on this topic on Thursday, January 28th at 7pm.  I strongly encourage everyone to attend.  Thanks to Donelson neighbor Tara Shaver, she will host the meeting on her corporate Zoom account and manage the logistics.  We will hear from our Metro Homeless Impact Division and learn about their role and efforts, non-profit partners engaged in this effort, including Open Table Nashville, Room at the Inn, Mental Health Cooperative and People Loving Nashville.  Sergeant Jeff White with our Hermitage Precinct will be in attendance to discuss MNPD’s role and efforts as they interact with the homeless community and how they interact with other Metro Departments.  He will also discuss panhandling, which is a separate issue, but is somewhat connected to community concerns.  State Representative Darren Jernigan will be in attendance to discuss this from a State perspective.  This meeting will require registration.  Please visit this link to register.

I continue to work hard on all things related to any further development in the Pennington Bend area, specifically on infrastructure.  Last term I focus efforts on attempting to push for a third interchange.  That does not appear likely to happen at all for several reasons, so am now focused on ensuring private development proposals to include ample infrastructure support and have created a couple new Capital Improvement Budget requests of Metro for future planning.  Stay tuned for a community meeting within the next two months that’ll hold to bring everyone up to speed with my efforts.

Despite the challenges before us both at a national and local level, I have strong faith in our ability to come together and meet these challenges and create a brighter future for the next generation.  I hope you will join me in working to find common ground, vehemently reject extremism as a cancer upon our democracy, create and participate in constructive dialogue (especially on social media), and be part of solutions to our problems in service to each other.

Best,

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Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting and Closing out 2020

Dear Friends,

It’s time for the 2020 Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting!  Join us LIVE Sunday, December 13, 4:00pm on the Hip Donelson Facebook page. 

It’s a different kind of tree lighting this year for a couple of reasons.  For safety we are hosting this virtually.  In addition, the location begins a new era as we begin to utilize our new civic space in front of where the new library will be.

Please consider driving by and dropping off an unwrapped toy for the Metro Police Christmas Charities, started by District 15’s very own Chief Joe Casey.  Those who donate a toy will receive a coupon for a complimentary Bacon Popcorn at Homegrown Taproom & Kitchen!

Thanks to District 15 Beautification Commissioner Michele Mazzu, Hip Donelson, The Donelson Gateway Project, JVI Secret Gardens and Donelson Cafe and Catering for all coming together to make this event possible.

Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting in 2020

Click here to review Mayor Cooper’s Transportation Plan for Nashville.  As the Mayor’s Office describes is, this is a “people-focused approach to help set us up better for grant opportunities”.  There is no direct funding appropriated with this plan.  It does help identify the infrastructure needs with “critical projects for community resilience, neighborhood livability, shared prosperity, and system preservation and performance.”

As a reminder as we close out 2020, here are a few resources to help you navigate these very difficult times:

  • Call 211 to reach the United Way, who is a critical resource for guiding you for various resources.
  • Affordable Housing Resources also has two programs to help with rent. Contact AHR at (615) 251-0025, Extension 0 or email sbosworth@ahrhousing.org
  • The Financial Empowerment Center stands ready to help you navigate these very difficult times for so many. See below for their contact info.

Free Professional Financial Counselling

As always, don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of service.  My cell is 615-886-9906.  I wish you and your families a very Happy Holidays.  Despite the extraordinary times we’re living in,

Best,

Councilman Jeff Syracuse

 

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An Overdue Newsletter with a New Format Coming and a Metro Budget 101 Series Everyone Should Attend

happy-thanksgiving-3727343_1280 Happy Thanksgiving from Councilman Syracuse!

Dear Friends,

It’s been a few months since I last sent out a newsletter.  I will freely admit it’s been a challenge to sit and focus on writing one during these strange times… tornado recovery, global pandemic, Presidential election and significant budget issues.  I am hopeful about the news regarding the success with progress towards a vaccine and recovery from the tornado is ongoing, but good progress has been made.

I’m going to soon change the format of my newsletters to be shorter and hopefully more regular.  As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.  For now, I wanted to get this critical information out to you ASAP.  I strongly encourage everyone to get more engaged in our budget issues and processes so we can have more productive conversations about them.  One of my greatest frustrations with this year is the inability to have town halls.  I started looking at doing a live streamed town hall, but this series below is even better.  I may be a day or two late getting this newsletter to your inbox before the first meeting of the series, but it will be rebroadcast and available to watch online as well.

Councilmembers Kyonzté Toombs (Chair) & Delishia Porterfield (Vice-Chair) of the Budget and Finance Committee, will be hosting a Virtual Metro Budget 101 Series over the next few months. The sessions, beginning at 6PM, will provide transparency and education for the general public concerning Metro Nashville Davidson County's revenues, and the budget process.

Questions from the public may be submitted to kyonzte.toombs@nashville.gov by 5PM on the day before the session. All questions must be on-topic.

How does the city get money?

  • November 19, 2020 - Property Taxes: Assessor of Property Vivian Wilhoite, Trustee Erica Gilmore
  • December 3, 2020 - Sales Tax: Councilmember At-Large Bob Mendes
  • December 17, 2020 - City/State Revenue: Finance Director Kevin Crumbo and State Rep. Harold Love

How does the city spend money?

  • January 7, 2021 - Metro Nashville Public Schools: School Board Member Freda Player-Peters, Chief Operating and Financial Officer Chris Henson
  • January 14, 2021 - Metro Public Works and Metro Parks Departments: Public Works Interim Director Shanna Whitelaw
  • January 21, 2021 - Nashville General Hospital
  • January 28, 2021 - Public Safety (Metro Nashville Police Department, Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office)

Community Panel Discussions

  • February 4, 2021 - Community Panel Discussion
  • February 11, 2021 - Expert Panel Discussion
  • February 18, 2021 - How the Budget Process Works
  • February 25, 2021 - Participatory Budget: Councilmember At-Large Zulfat Suara

This series of sessions will provide helpful Information, and I hope you will participate as we wort through this upcoming 2021 budget year. The schedule will be updated as speakers are confirmed.

The public may watch the following meetings live online at:

https://www.nashville.gov/.../Metro.../Live-Streaming.aspx

Metro Nashville and Davidson County residents can view Metro Nashville Network on Comcast channel 3, AT&T U-verse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3, and streaming on the MNN Roku channel.

As always, don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of service.  My cell is 615-886-9906.  I wish you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Best,

jeff syracuse

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FY2021 Budget Virtual Community Meetings, Tree Replacement and Unveiling of a New Art Piece in Donelson

Dear Friends,
 
I’m going to keep this newsletter brief as I know we are inundated with information being sent to us from national, state and local levels and I don’t want to simply regurgitate information you’re already seeing elsewhere, such as all information related to Nashville’s COVID-19 response here, where it details the metrics being looked at and the Roadmap for Reopening Nashville.
 
When Mayor Cooper announced his budget proposal, my phone started ringing off the hook as is expected, especially when a tax increase is part of it, and especially when our economy is largely shut down.  I get it and I hear you.  It’s frustrating that we can’t have community meetings in person, so what I’d like to do is set up two virtual community meetings via Zoom so I can offer a platform to hopefully have productive conversations as Council proceeds with our budget hearings with Metro Department heads.  Until then, the Citizen Guide to the Metro Budget and Mayor Cooper’s budget presentation are here.  All documents Metro Council Members are reviewing and our budget hearing schedule is here

  • Thursday, May 21st at 6:30pm – Zoom Meeting Link
    Meeting ID: 811 7969 9344
    Password: 995935
     
  • Thursday, May 28th at 6:30pm – Zoom Meeting Link
    Meeting ID: 830 0936 6439
    Password: 046653

Upcoming Public Hearing

The public hearing for the budget will be at the June 2nd Council Meeting.  How do you have a public hearing without the public?  Great question.  Governor Lee has extended his Order that allows local municipalities to meet virtually until June 30th.  If members of the public are interested in speaking either for or against any item on the public hearing agenda this is how you do it: 

  1. Tune into the meeting via live streaming on Nashville.gov, by watching on cable TV (Comcast channel 3, AT&T Uverse channel 99), or watch on the Roku Metro Nashville Network Channel.
  2. Wait for the Vice Mayor to announce when your item is ready for live call in.
  3. Dial 629-255-1931 and wait for operator assistance.
  4. You will be asked if you are calling for the current bill on public hearing.
  5. Mute your TV or live stream when it is your turn to speak.
  6. Once your time begins, state your name, address, and whether you are for or against the bill. You will have two minutes to speak.
  7. During your public comments, you will receive a 30-second warning before your time limit is up.

While the live call-in feature is strongly encouraged in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, members of the public may attend the Metro Council Meeting at the Historic Metro Courthouse (1 Public Square) and speak to the Council from the Council Chamber.  Additional information about virtual Council Meetings and remote participation in Council public hearings can be found here.
 

Affordable Housing Programs for Tornado Victims

Affordable Housing Resources has a new program to help homeowners who lost use of their homes in the tornado called the Tornado Mortgage Mitigation program (TMM).  The TMM is a free service designed to help these homeless homeowners get up to a 12 month “holiday” from their mortgage payments – basically as long as the home is unlivable.  From working in past disasters, including Katrina, they learned it takes most homeowners 12 months to settle on their FEMA and Insurance payments, find a contractor and get the repairs completed.  During this time most homeowners are responsible to keep their monthly mortgage current and are now also paying rent on temporary housing; however, experience has shown that it’s often challenging for many homeowners to deal with mortgage servicers.  This is because they do not deal with financial institutions and mortgage servicers often and these institutions are often full of pushbacks.  AHR is experienced at mitigating mortgages as they worked with thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure during the 2010-2014 Recession.  They know how to successfully negotiate with the various professional mortgage servicers.  Below is a flyer with more information about this free service to all homeowners whose homes were rendered unlivable by the tornado.  Most lawyers charge $2,000 or more for this mitigation work.   They are able to make it a free service because of generous grants from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Frist Foundation and NeighborWorks America.  Also, thanks to a recent gift from the United Way, AHR can now help those homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgage due to recent job losses caused by COVID-19, so give them a call to learn more.
 

 
Thanks to organizations like Root Nashville, there are opportunities to engage in helping us restore our tree canopy we lost in the March 3rd tornado and recent storms of May 3rd and 4th.  For us to be successful in helping neighbors plant the right kind of trees in the right places and defray the cost, it’s important we support organizations like Root Nashville as plans are made available for us to engage with.  As you’ll note at the link above, “Planting Captains” will help coordinate the logistics.  The other program will be through the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps called “Operation Overstory”.  I encourage you to check them both out and support them as you’re able.  More information on this in the weeks and months ahead, but please let me know if you’re willing and able to assist with these efforts as we’ll need it.

The Donelson Gateway Project

To close this newsletter, I invite you all to join The Donelson Gateway Project's Facebook page LIVE next Thursday, May 14th at 6:30pm as we unveil a public art piece at the Briley Parkway / Lebanon Pike site.  This was inspired by our treasured Merry Oaks neighbor and former 15th District Beautification Commissioner Naomi Regensburg.  The idea came to life thanks to our Metro Arts: Nashville Office of Arts + Culture THRIVE program, artist Brian Somerville, and Brian Sexton with Creatives Day managing the process.  It’s an art piece that is poignant for the times we’re living in, so we decided to go ahead with an unveiling event live on Facebook.  It’d be a great night to support a local restaurant for dinner and tune in next Thursday, May 14th at 6:30pm live on The Donelson Gateway Project’s Facebook page.  See you then.
 

 
During this extraordinary time of challenges, if I can be of service, don’t hesitate to call my cell at 615-886-9906.
 
Best,
 


615-886-9906

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COVID-19 Information, Tornado Recovery, Federal Stimulus and State of Metro

Dear Friends,
 
Since the tornado, things have moved so quickly, it has been difficult to sit down and compose a newsletter.  I’d like to give a very big public Thank You to Chelsea Moubarak, who has assisted several Council Members with putting together a comprehensive list of information, resources and much more.  She’s done a great job with compiling much of the information below.
 
Between the tornado and now a global pandemic, I know it feels like we’re living in the Twilight Zone.  There has never been a time more than now as your Council Member that I have felt more helpless.  My heart breaks for those that were impacted by the tornado and now we’ve been hit with the one-two punch in dealing with COVID-19.  That said, I have seen extraordinary service to one another and unparalleled perseverance.  Thank you to each of you for taking care of your neighbors and community.  Please continue to support small business and their employees who are struggling immensely now.  Take-out, delivery and curb side service are being offered by just about all our favorite local restaurants.

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Donelson School News - March 2020

I am thankful to MNPS Interim Director Dr. Adrienne Battle and her leadership team for presenting the proposed FY20-21 school budget at various meetings across the county.  I am impressed in that it acknowledges the difficult budget season we face and presents options for funding various areas of MNPS depending on what revenues are available.  Here is a two-page brief on the proposal.

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Donelson Non-Profit News - March 2020

Come visit Two Rivers Mansion on Sunday, March 15th from 1pm – 4pm for the annual Open House – “Phil the House with Arts and Friends”.  Admission is Free.  The artist spotlight this year is Randy Purcell.  This event is hosted by the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion.  Please consider becoming a member and supporting this wonderful group who continue to showcase this historic gem in our community.  Many events become free with membership.

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Donelson Neighborhood News - March 2020

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.

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Donelson Business News - March 2020

Big news was announced for the former headquarters of Bridgestone at 535 Marriott Drive.  Genesco announced it will relocate its corporate headquarters next year, create new jobs and invest more than $30 million in Davidson County over the next five years.
 
Check out the updated website for Donelson Plaza.  There are new images of what the final renovation will look like.  Note: The architect of our new Donelson Library will be chosen soon.  The depiction of the library in the images is just a placeholder for now.  Also, check out this news clip from WKRN Channel 2 about the Plaza as well.

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“The State of Donelson and Hermitage” Forum Coming Plus the Next Mayor’s Night Out and Budget Meetings

Dear Friends –

The Donelson-Hermitage Neighborhood Association is hosting a “State of Donelson and Hermitage” forum at FiftyForward Donelson Station on Monday, March 9th at 7pm.  See flyer below for details.  See you there.

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Tornado Response and Donelson Community Support Day – Saturday, March 7th

McGavock Pike after tornado in Donelson Tennessee
 
Dear Friends –

My heart goes out to everyone who was in the path of the tornado. The outreach and support from neighbors and the community at large has been inspiring and words cannot express the appreciation and love we all feel towards those that are assisting with this recovery effort.

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Donelson Business News - February 2020

Welcome to Legacy Barber Lounge!  Located at 160 McGavock Pike around back next to the dry cleaners and laundry mat.  See pics below for hours of operation.  The space looks great!
 

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Donelson Neighborhood News - February 2020

I was honored recently to present two proclamations to constituents on very special occasions.  Congratulations to Billy Sanford on his 80th birthday and Ann Clayton on her 100th birthday!  Billy Sanford is a great musician and the day he moved here in 1954, Roy Orbison asked him to be in his band.  The famous guitar work we all know in Pretty Woman is none other than Billy.  And Ann Clayton is an extraordinary neighbor as well!  She celebrated her 100th birthday with family and church friends and the next day went on a big cruise!  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to recognize neighbors on their special days like these.

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Donelson Non-Profit News - February 2020

I recently enjoyed my visit with Community Options, a non-profit supporting people with disabilities for over 30 years.  They’re located here in District 15 and do great work to ensure our neighbors with disabilities have affordable housing and the care they need.  Thanks to Executive Director Meika McClendon for the time spent with me and also giving me a tour of one of their homes.  Please visit their website above to learn more about them and how you can get involved.

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Donelson School News - February 2020

Number Magazine is a free quarterly art journal that seeks to Amplify the voices of artists living in the South.  They accept proposals for articles, interviews, and reviews on a rolling basis.  Check out www.Numberinc.org for more information.  If you know a great Art Educator and want to nominate them as an Art-Ed Hero, please email Michael.mitchell@numberinc.org

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Pennington Bend Update on Developments and Community Engagement for the Next Metro Budget and a Public Art Piece

Dear Friends –

I’ve received a great deal of phone calls, emails and social media tags with questions about the big 130-acre development that began recently, which will be called Pennington Centre.  I thought it best to detail this land’s history, where we are headed and also provide information on other projects and overall what my efforts have been specifically in the Pennington Bend area since I first took office in 2015.

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Doneslon School News - January 2020

I had the pleasure of meeting new McGavock Elementary principal, Rae Covey.  She’s wonderful and is already building a great culture to learn and work.  I also picked up my McGavock Elementary shirts I will wear proudly in the community to support them.

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Donelson Non-Profit News - January 2020

The Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market continues to have their Winter Market every 1st, 3rd and 5th Friday through April at The Donelson Fellowship.

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Donelson Neighborhood News - January 2020

Donelson Neighborhood News - January 2020

Public Works was opened up the application period for their Traffic Calming Program.  Visit this link to learn more and apply.

Here’s a great story about the 58th annual Christmas Story program by the Kelley family in Donelson Hills.

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Donelson Business News - January 2020

Big congratulations to Fletcher’s on their 40th anniversary.  The new paper, Main Street Nashville, did a nice article on this milestone.  Read it here.
 
Big thanks to Kursynske & Associates for the renovation they have underway at the corner Lebanon Pike and the entrance to Donelson Station.  Here are a couple of artist renderings of what the building will be transformed into.  No new tenants lined up yet, just construction and rehab at the moment.

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