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, 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.


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