Jeff Syracuse

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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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Happy New Year! What’s ahead in 2020, Update on Metro Finances and Important Transit Meeting

Dear Friends –

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season.  Hard to believe 2019 is done.  I know I’m a bit behind sending out a newsletter.  Let’s dive right in.  Lots to cover here, mostly on what’s happening in Metro and economic development in the community.
 
The biggest and most important focus right now is getting our finances back on track.  Things have been moving quickly since the term began.  I’ll try to break this down in a palatable way.

  • The initial FY19/20 budget was not balanced because the plan to bring in a private company to manage on-street parking and selling our downtown district energy system was not approved, thankfully so, because neither were a good idea.  However, that did leave us with about a $41.5 million gap to close in this budget.  
  • An unbalanced budget is against State law.  Justin Wilson, the Comptroller for the State of Tennessee, visited Metro Council’s Budget & Finance Committee (of which I’m a member) to make a presentation of where we stand and actions that need to happen.  CM Mendes, Budget & Finance Chair, added the presentation on his website here.  CM Mendes and a number of other colleagues have become more adept than I at getting out quick communication (I know… my newsletters are long and have been working to get shorter e-blasts out there, especially with situations like this that are very fluid.)  I encourage you to follow CM Mendes’s website for his excellent and informative updates here.

  • Mayor Cooper has made some difficult decisions as we knew he would have to in order to correct our fiscal issues and balance the budget and fill the $41.5 revenue gap.  Some of the below is rather complicated.  Here is how the revenue gap has been filled and was approved by the State Comptroller:

    * An agreement with the Convention Center Authority will bring about $12.6 million annually back into the general fund from the Music City Center via a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Taxes) agreement.
    * $10 million via a PILOT with Metro Water Services.
    * $7.2 million MDHA TIF (Tax Increment Financing) payment reduction ($10.8 million was the total, with $7.2 million to Metro and $3.6 million to Metro Schools).
    * $3.6 million from the Convention and Visitors Corporation.  Debt Service reimbursements for facilities that attract tourists are an allowable use of Tourist Promotion funds under TN Code and the CVC will adjust their spending from that fund to accommodate the $3.6 million reimbursement.
    * $500k from program reimbursements from Sheriff’s Office / US Marshall Service.  The Sheriff will be housing federal prisoners under an existing contract.  It’s important to note this contract does not include ICE detainees. This is a net gain of revenue to Metro, and funds will need to be allocated to the Sheriff’s Office to budget for this new programming.
    * $2.6 million in targeted savings, fund balances and deferrals:
    $600,000 of excess fund balance that has built up in the impound lot fund that will be transferred to the General Fund.
    * $450,000 budgeted for the staffing study and public property performance audit that have not been started and cannot be completed this fiscal year.
    * $200,000 of the amount budgeted in post audits where current projections indicate this funding will not be needed to close out the fiscal year.
    * $100,000 of contingency that has not been used and that Finance doesn’t believe will be needed this year. 

The remaining $1.2 million is anticipated excess savings from various departments and agencies throughout Metro.Last year nearly all Metro departments and agencies exceeded their targeted savings amounts by a collective total of $8.8 million.Departments and agencies continue to be mindful of the need for savings and based on mid-year budget meetings, we believe they will again collectively exceed savings targets.

  • Of the budgeted $10 million for the Barnes Fund that goes towards assisting affordable housing projects, only $5 million will be awarded.  The Mayor has said this is a partial impoundment of this fund and will strive to ensure it is put back in future budgets.  This does delay some critical affordable housing projects from moving forward.

Another decision that was made that I fully support is $18 million that was debt already approved for the Gulch pedestrian bridge has been reallocated for other critical infrastructure projects, traffic calming, street lights and needed new trash cans around the county.  In addition, the promised extra 3% pay increase last summer that teachers would get starting January 1, 2020 was kept under the new administration.  So, where do we go from here?  As this upcoming budget planning cycle is absolutely critical, there is agreement to start it early.  Our fiscal year is July 1, but the budgeting process has already been started in the administration and the cycle will be moved up one month to June 1, so that the Comptroller has ample time to oversee and approve that we have improved cash management, redevelop adequate reserves.
 
Will a property tax increase be on the horizon?   I believe so, yes.  Is it warranted?  I believe so, yes.  What will it be and where will it go?  That’s the critical question we will address in the months ahead.  I have voted against a property tax increase over the last two years.  I didn’t feel there was 1) a substantial long term plan for how revenues would be used and 2) a lack of trust that there wasn’t a fundamental change in direction that would’ve otherwise just fueled more development and not directed the money to critical areas of schools and public safety.  You may hear from a colleague or two on Council who believe we need to make more cuts.  I disagree and have yet to hear what cuts there are left to make.  I believe we’ve cut to the bone.  I have engaged with staff at our departments at all levels.  Our staffing levels at departments and they’ve consistently made more and more cuts.  Their staffing levels are what they were during the recession more than a decade ago and our ability to recruit and retain teachers, police officers and fire fighters is hampered by our lack of ability to support them with competitive salaries.  This absolutely must change.  Here’s one recent story highlighting the challenges we face.  Our property tax rate is the lowest in Metro history after the 2017 property reassessment.  We will have another reassessment in 2021.  I believe under Mayor Cooper’s leadership and Council’s hard work, we will continue to trim spending, address our revenue needs and ensure every penny is put to address our top priorities.

Here’s a good story about where we are headed with the budget process this year.
 
Mayor Cooper’s administration is hosting a series of eleven public listening sessions about where we go from here in regards to transit.  Read about all of them here.  The one for our side of town will be on Thursday, January 16th at 6pm at FiftyForward Donelson Station.  Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend this important meeting.

Coffee with Mayor Cooper

At Council last Tuesday I had the honor of presenting a resolution I sponsored honoring the 50th Anniversary of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. I was joined by Councilwoman Zulfat Suara, Council Member At-Large Burkley Allen, Erin Evans, Metro Councilmember District 12 and Brett Withers for Council District 6. Thanks to Councilwoman Joy Styles - District 32 for the picture.  CEO Melissa Hudson-Gant accepted the resolution and was joined by David Fish and his little brother Jayden (who also had the opportunity to use Vice Mayor Shulman's gavel and start the meeting) along with Nicole Cochran and her son William, who was the little brother of Frank Trew, which made it very special and personal for me. I'd like to think Frank would be proud of the resolution and especially how great of a young man William has become.  I'm very thankful for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee and the incredible impact they've made on thousands of young men and women over the years. Read the resolution here.

50th Anniversary of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee
 
Thanks to those that attended the rezoning meeting for 1590, 1600, 1602 and 1604 Lebanon Pike.  The initial proposal for a 100-unit apartment complex has been changed after feedback from neighbors.  The proposal is now 19-townhomes in front and 60-unit condo complex with a rooftop amenity to view downtown.  Thus, for-sale product instead of apartments.  There will be no short term rentals and the townhomes will have elements of brick in them.  It is a much improved plan that will add value to the area.  It will be on the February 4th Council Meeting for second reading / public hearing.

Rezoning meeting for 1590, 1600, 1602 and 1604 Lebanon Pike

A number of folks over the past few years have asked about segmenting off a portion of our Two Rivers Dog Park for smaller dogs.  It seems easy enough, but as we know, nothing really is.  I asked some specific questions about the feasibility of this.  What I learned is that just putting up a section of fence to divide it in two doesn’t work.  All the animal behaviorists and other experts that have advised our Metro Parks Department over many years recommend against doing this.  It creates “fence aggression” and other undesirable activity.  Also, if each zone (big and small) don’t have all the same amenities (water, shade, trails, etc.) that’ll create another issue to address.  Instead, the best practice is to create an entirely separate dog park.  Parks has strategically chosen to hold off on installing separate small dog parks using Metro funds until the entire county is first well-served with a general purpose park.  I support this.  I wish it could be done more easily than this, but it is indeed equitable to ensure all parts of the county have access to a dog park before we start building other ones for our smaller dogs.

The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring thousands to help with the big 2020 census.  This is very important as this data collected helps direct grants and other federal support for a variety of topics.  Visit their website here to learn more about the process and job opportunities.
 
Big thanks goes to Piedmont Gas for sponsoring the first ever Nashville Christmas Parade train ride.  They sold around 600 tickets and about filled the train up.  Some proceeds from the “Christmas Parade Express” went to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  I believe it will be back next year.  I’m always trying to find new sponsorships for weekend rides wherever possible.  See flyer below to learn more about the opportunity.
 
Big thanks goes to Piedmont Gas for sponsoring the first ever Nashville Christmas Parade train ride

Big thanks goes to Piedmont Gas for sponsoring the first ever Nashville Christmas Parade train ride


Best,


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New Term Begins, Election as President Pro Tempore, Community Meetings and More

Dear Friends –

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.

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Donelson Neighborhood News - June 2019

I had the extraordinary honor and privilege recently to present a proclamation to Joe Davis, World War II veteran, serving in the US Army where he earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Joe celebrated his 100th birthday on Memorial Day.  I so enjoyed our visit as he told me about being part of the invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943.  After the war, Joe enjoyed a long career at the US Postal Service.  An amazing man and hero.

Joe Davis

I’m very aware and staying on top of construction related issues with folks living behind Donelson Plaza off of Benson Road.  Don’t hesitate to call my cell – 615-886-9906, and I will stay on top of this and work to ensure there is safe passage for trash trucks, delivery and neighbors just trying to get back and forth to their homes.  Thanks for your patience.  It’s a big project and it’ll be great when finished, but I know it’s a big pain to deal with right now.

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Donelson Non-profit News - June 2019

I am thankful the opportunity to return to visit with the Stones River Women’s Club.  They do a great deal of impactful projects in the community and I always enjoy my annual visits to bring them up to speed on things happening at Metro Council and in Donelson.

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Donelson School News - June 2019

Teachers have gone above and beyond to advocate for improved resources for schools that specifically brings equity to their pay.  I have listened and met with teachers and agree that we are behind in ensuring their pay is fair and allows us to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers.  Same can be said for our public safety and all Metro employees.  The reality is our growth has been on the backs of Metro employees and we have to change that.  Post cards from students whose parents are teachers drives this reality home.  I felt strongly that the substitute budget that was offered (that would’ve raised the property tax rate almost .50 for an extra 1% that would’ve given nothing extra for all other Metro employees) would’ve hampered our ability to fix the structural issues with our budget that ultimately will put us on a course to improving funding for MNPS and all Metro employee pay in the long term.  It will be a top priority in the coming year.  We will discuss it in more detail at the July 11 town hall.

Teachers Pay in Davidson County

I’m pleased that the next Donelson Gateway Project is a beautification of their front entranceway.  Below is the basic plan that JVI Secret Gardens put together for us.  Stay tuned for a fundraising efforts, but feel free to donate at the website above and notate that it’s for Pennington Elementary.  It’ll cost about $1,700.

Pennington Elementary Plan

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Donelson Business News - June 2019

Donelson-Urban-Overlay Donelson Urban Overlay

You'll notice the red and white Metro signs along Lebanon Pike between Briley Parkway and Stewart's Ferry Pike in the Urban Design Overlay.  Over the last several months, some business and property owners and I have been meeting with the Planning Department in terms of streamlining aspects based on how its implementation has been going since its inception a decade ago. Changes have never been made to it and these are purely administrative, working in tandem with Planning and property owners. It does not change anything fundamentally with the vision and rather enhances the ease of its applicability when development occurs. A few duplicative elements are being removed as they're already been addressed in subsequent plans that have been created since then, such as NashvilleNext and the Walk-Bike Plan for Sidewalks and Bikeways.  I'm pleased and thankful for how Planning and property owners were all on the same page with this process.  It went before the Planning Commission on Thursday, June 26th and will next go before Council for three readings.  Please feel free to review the red-lined edits here and don't hesitate with any questions.

Congratulations to Mehaul Oleary and team on the grand opening of his new restaurant and pub, The Lost Paddy.  Located at 709 Spence Lane near Murfreesboro Pike, it’s a wonderful new addition to the district.  Thanks to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce for hosting a great ribbon cutting.

The Lost Paddy

Check out Hi5 Practice’s transformation of 936 Allen Road where their new home is located.  Check out the video of the before and after.  Hi5 is a great marketing company that helps connects medical practices with their patients.  Check out a picture of the inside of their office.  Congrats again to Kevin & Sierra Barnett and their team and thanks for the investment in the district!

Hi5 Practice

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Join Me for a Community Conversation “Town Hall” on July 11, Paying Respects to Community Leaders of the Greatest Generation and More Updates

Dear Friends –

I’m humbled to be unopposed on the ballot and so I’ve given thought to how I want to proceed with the re-election process.  If you’ve saved my sign from last time and wish to put it out, please feel free! If you’d like one, please let me know and I’d be honored to get you one. Ensuring we have a strong turnout is important. We of course have Mayor, Vice Mayor and At-Large races as well.

Save the date!  Thursday, July 11th. The Donelson Fellowship at 3210 McGavock Pike across the street from McGavock High School.  Doors open at 6:30pm. Meeting starts at 7pm.  I’ve never done one before, so I’ve decided to do a town hall style meeting and hold a Community Conversation as we assess where we are, how we got here, and what’s ahead for Donelson and Nashville in the next four years and what we can do to get our priorities realigned to refocus on schools, public safety and our Metro employees. I’ve sent a mailer that looks like this below to every registered voter in the 15th District, so you should be receiving one. I look forward to seeing you there and having a constructive conversation about Donelson and Nashville’s future.

Early Voting Election Day

District 15 Community Conversation with Jeff Syracuse


Even though I’m unopposed, I’m honored to be receiving endorsements.  Thanks to our Firefighters and Medics at IAFF Local 140, the Fraternal Order of Police Jackson Lodge #5, and the political committee of the Coalition for Nashville Neighborhoods.

Nashville Fire EMS Rescue

Nashville Business Coalition

Fraternal Order Of Police

Coalition logo Nashville For Neighborhoods

Don’t forget you have until July 2nd to register or change your address, which can be done online.  Go to www.nashville.gov/vote for all voter information.  If you need one, you can secure an absentee ballot here.  Below is the Early Voting Schedule.

Voting Schedule

The community has lost four community and business leaders recently.  Charlie Cardwell was one of the longest (if not the longest) serving Metro employee and had been our Metro Trustee through six Mayoral administrations I believe.  He embodied professionalism, respect, integrity and what all elected officials should aspire to be.  John Harwell, Sr. invested in Donelson during the early days and brought businesses like Two Rivers Ford to Donelson that were here and thrived for decades.  Larry Keeton and John A. Hobbs were both World War II veterans, were top business leaders in Donelson, gave back in extraordinary ways, they took care of their neighborhoods and so much more.  Dick’s Flowers & Petals, The Larry Keeton Theater, Nashville Palace and John A’s Restaurant have all been places that became institutions in the community that Larry and John A created respectively.  All four of these men earned and deserved great respect from their community because of their leadership in making us the great place we are today.  They will all be missed and their legacy of service to community will be felt forever.

Larry Keeton

John A Hobbs

Best,

Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council, District 15

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Donelson Neighborhood News - May 2019

Congratulations to Merry Oaks neighbors for kicking off a campaign event on June 1st from 4-7pm on Woodberry Court to build their own beautified entranceway sign.  If you’re in Merry Oaks or want to contribute to this project, see flyer below for details.

Merry Oaks Neighborhood

Also in Merry Oaks, they were identified as the neighborhood needing paving the most and will be getting the following streets paved during the warm months:

  • Deerwood Road from Fairway Drive to Blue Hills Drive
  • Fairway Drive from Lebanon Pike to Deerwood Road
  • Elm Tree Drive from Elm Hill Pike to Acord Drive
  • Mapleleaf Drive from Elm Tree Drive to Massman Drive

Another sign recently cleaned up by Craigmeade neighbor Josh Gulick turned out great.  Neighbors have plans to continue working on it.

Craigmeade Neighborhood

Thanks to everyone who participated in the May 18 Clean-Up for the community organized by District’s 12 and 15 Beautification Commissioners Erin Evans and Michele Mazzu respectively.  Thanks to McGavock High School for hosting, Sgt Jeff White with MNPD for collecting old prescriptions, Troop 700 for spending the morning collecting tons of trash on the area around McGavock Pike near the school and all the volunteers.  Randy Mazzu, Karen Cowell and I enjoyed cooking burger and hot dogs for everyone in the Dumpster Diner.

Dumpster Diner with Councilman Jeff Syracuse

Dumpster Diner with Councilman Jeff Syracuse

A good friend in music, Shannon Williford was a Metro Parks employee and ran the summer music programs for Parks and also earned a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation for his Blues in the Schools programs here in Nashville.  He recently performed one of his programs at Two Rivers Middle.   He and family moved back home to Louisiana and he will be missed but wish him well and so thankful for his friendship and service to so many kids in Nashville.  Terry Bulger at WSMV recently did a story about him.  Enjoy it here.

Congratulations to River Glen HOA President Pam Miller for being a finalist in Neighbor 2 Neighbor (https://www.tnrc.net/) ’s Trew Neighbor Award named after in remembrance of Donelson’s very own Frank Trew. She was among great neighborhood leaders in the county recognized for her tireless efforts on behalf of her neighborhood.

River Glens Pam Miller Finalist in Neighbor 2 Neighbor

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Donelson School News - May 2019

There may still be openings at MNPS Summer Camps and Programs.  Visit this link for more information and to sign up.

Recently, Senior Awards Night at McGavock High School was held to showcase academic and student excellence among a variety of disciplines.  91 seniors received McGavock Covenant Student Scholarships, which are $500 scholarships given to graduating seniors with a 3.0 GPA, 21 ACT, and 8 hours of community service.  This is the only scholarship of its kind in Nashville and the surrounding area that is funded by the community for a local public high school.  Awards were also presented to fine arts students (band, orchestra, theater, dance), cheer and student athletes.  Also, a McGavock student was recognized for being the highest rated Cambridge student in the entire state of Tennessee.

McGavock High School Awards

Metro Nashville Public Schools joins the Nashville Public Education Foundation and Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee in celebrating this year’s selection of Blue Ribbon Teachers.  In its fifth year, the Blue Ribbon Teacher program aims to recognize top teaching talent in our schools. This year, we’re celebrating fifty exceptional educators who are doing outstanding work in one of three areas: student growth, instructional excellence and teacher leadership.  Blue Ribbon Teachers will be honored at a reception at Vanderbilt in June.  Congrats to McGavock High School’s Laura Vignon and all our fantastic teachers in the county.

Blue Ribbon Teacher Award Recipients

I recently had the opportunity attend the 40th Words and Music Night held at the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It’s an annual event that celebrates the performance of songs written by students and professional Nashville songwriters.  Here is Stanford Montessori’s recent 4th grade graduate Oscar Spitzer accompanied by Shane Adams performing their song “The Beach”.

Words and Music at Country Music Hall Of Fame

Words and Music at Country Music Hall Of Fame

 

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Donelson Business News - May 2019

It’s a Ball Y’all is a new event honoring extraordinary women in our community.  See flyer below for details and visit this link for tickets and sponsorship opportunities.

Its a Ball Y'all with Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce

Explore what Donelson has to offer at Donelson Day on June 15th from 11am to 3pm at Buchanan Log House (2910 Elm Hill Pike).  Come out and meet your neighborhood businesses and friends.  Businesses that are confirmed to be at the event with more to follow:

  • Caliber Coffee- Cold brew and sweet treats
  • Nashville Flower Market- Build your own flower bouquet
  • Zulemas- Flautas and possibly lemonade
  • Hermitage Dance Academy- 2 different performances
  • Paper and Ink Arts- Kids coloring and drawing area
  • Buddy Allen- Samples and SWAG
  • Rehab Therapy- Physical therapy services with discounted evaluation
  • Music City Fencing- Fencing Demonstration
  • Williams Violins- Try to play a violin
  • Buchanan Log House- House will be open for attendees to see the property
  • Nash 103.3- Listener SWAG and possible giveaway
  • Mind Body Institute- Free chair massages during the event by licensed and massage therapy students
  • Full Metal Flowers- Local metal artist selling items
  • Remington College- SWAG and giving away a free teeth whitening session
  • Kona Ice Truck- Shaved ice for sale during event
  • Jae's Gems- Mining table and mineral display
  • Smart Supplies- Creating the entrance sign displaying "Donelson Day"
  • Hermitage Officers- Patrol cars with sticker badges and kids items
  • Nashville Airport Police Department
  • Semper Sliders- Burger sliders

Donelson Day at Buchanan Log House

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New Donelson Library Project Begins, Unopposed on the Ballot and a New Sister City in Music

Dear Friends –

The groundbreaking for our new Donelson Library was a memorable morning with beautiful weather.  Thanks to everyone who were able to attend.  Nashville Library Director Kent Oliver, student library patron Elijah Byrd and neighbor Diana Bradford spoke on the importance of our library to them.  Mayor Briley and I also spoke and then we officially broke ground on the full project.  As you’ve already noticed, road closures have begun as infrastructure work begins.  Most of the work done this year will be all related to stormwater, road and sidewalks.  Remember to keep tabs with the Donelson Plaza website.  The library itself may not go vertical until next year with hopefully (fingers crossed) completion by the end of 2021.  Below are a few pictures, including our fantastic Donelson Library Branch Manager, Chris Morin, who I couldn’t resist taking a selfie because of his “Libraries Rock” shirt.  They sure do and it’s in large part because of Chris and his staff!

New Donelson Library Project Begins

New Donelson Library Project Begins

New Donelson Library Project Begins

Thanks to everyone who supported our area restaurants on my six-stop Lunch & Brunch Tour and management and staff at Phat Bites, John A’s, Party Fowl, Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace, Nectar: Urban Cantina and Caliber Coffee.  I enjoyed our conversations.  I turned in my ballot and I am humbled and honored to be un-opposed on the ballot this year for re-election.  It’s been the most rewarding yet challenging endeavor of my life and I truly do love the job.  Thanks for your continued support and engagement.  There are a number of opportunities and celebrations ahead for us.

Lunch & Brunch Campaign Tour

Below is the Early Voting Schedule.  If you need one, you can secure an absentee ballot here.  We will of course be voting on Mayor, Vice Mayor and At Large, so be sure to put voting on your calendar and be sure to vote!

Early Voting Schedule

After the horrendous rains in February, they actually compromised the integrity of some bridges in areas along Greenways around us.  It appears one of the worst ones is a critical link between Donelson and East Nashville along Shelby Bottoms.  Metro Parks & Recreation released the below map recently with a detour and more information.

Shelby Bottoms Bridge

In April, I had the extraordinary opportunity to make my second trip to Chengdu, China (on my dime, not the taxpayer’s).  Chengdu is becoming a key city in Asia for trade in a number of industries, notably the music and entertainment industry.  Over the last couple of years, Nashville’s relationship with Chengdu has grown and we’ve officially become Sister Cities.  Council Member Sharon Hurt and I attended the 8th Music Cities Convention.  We were honored to present this framed resolution Metro Council passed and signed by Mayor Briley recognizing this Sister Cities relationship to Mr. Zhong Laizho with the Chengdu Office of Foreign and Overseas Affairs.  I am hopeful this will broaden our cultural sharing, strengthen the dialog on the importance of strong Copyright protections for creators and enhance Nashville’s presence as an international city.  48 cities around the world were present to showcase their music and entertainment economies and it was a fascinating learning experience.  I brought back new relationships from many of those cities that I believe will be of strong value to Nashville in the years ahead.  Special thanks to our Nashville Symphony and Nashville Opera for sharing some small gifts that I was able to present to our hosts and industry leaders in Chengdu.

Chengdu Sister City with Nashville

Chengdu Sister City with Nashville

I wanted to mention a recent story in the Nashville Business Journal I read recently regarding the growing discontent with how Nashville is managing our growth.  In my role as your Council Member, I have a particular acute sense of this from both hearing from you and managing the growth.  This budget season also in particular highlights some of the issues surrounding this.  Teacher pay and MNPS funding, the parking privatization proposal, WeGo (MTA/RTA) reduced service and increased fares, and other issues have surfaced as indicative of how and why we need to double down on efforts to be fiscally conservative, cease large incentives that negatively impact our operating budget, put our Metro employees first and protect the quality of life Nashville residents deserve to have.  The larger issue is that our property tax rate is the lowest it’s ever been in Metro’s history.  As we’ve gone through this budget process, it’s clear we don’t have sufficient revenues to meet the demands of our growing city, especially when after our regular property reappraisal that caused the rate to drop so low since per State law, we can’t generate revenue on a reassessment, so when the value goes up, the rate must come down to equalize the overall revenue generated by property taxes.  While I believe there is broad consensus we need to adjust our property tax rate, I want to first ensure we are fundamentally changing direction to not fund unabated growth downtown through “corporate welfare” type of incentives that will only add to debt and negatively impact our operating budget.  If we can achieve that and the increased revenues are dedicated to teachers, schools, police, fire and Metro employees, then I can support that.  The reality is that our Metro employees have taken the brunt of our growth in working so hard with little to no cost of living adjustments while we recovered from the Great Recession and May 2010 flood.  We owe our Metro employees a great deal because of the work they’ve done.  I’m not sure if will be this year or next, but I believe a property tax rate proposal will come before us at some point and I believe it will ultimately be warranted as long as it accompanies a budget that is not focused on debt and growth, but managing growth and funding basic services.

Metro Emergency Alert and Notification System (MEANS) is a new public safety program that enables Metro to let you know what safety actions to take when there’s danger.  Once registered, you can choose how to receive communications: cellphone, landline, text/SMS, or TTY.  Users can enter one or more addresses to receive location-based emergency notifications.  For example, if a user adds their home and work address to their account, they will receive emergency notifications when either of these two addresses is within the boundaries of an alert’s location.  If a user wishes to only receive countywide text/SMS messages, they can simply text the keyword ‘NashAlerts’ to 888-777.

Users with smartphones are also urged to download the Everbridge Mobile App from the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).  The Everbridge app brings the added security of delivering alerts to cell phones based on a user’s physical location at the time of an emergency.  When you register and provide your contact information, MEANS enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as criminal activity and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.  Get the alerts you want, the way you want – cell or landline phone call, text, email or TTY.

PRO TIP: When you register, please provide at least one street address. This can be your home address, or the address of a nearby grocery store, library or fire station. An address is not required, but it will ensure that the alerts you receive are focused on locations that matter to you -- places where you live, work and play.

Metro Emergency Alert and Notification System

This summer, consider taking a class through Nashville Community Education.  Check out their Summer 2019.

Thousands of veterans will receive free dental care on Saturday, June 8th, when Aspen dentists and their teams from more than 450 offices across 39 states open their doors for Aspen Dental’s 6th annual National Day of Service, including 4054 Lebanon Pike in Hermitage.  Many veterans struggle to find accessible and affordable dental care, in particular because most aren’t eligible for dental benefits through the VA unless they’re 100% disabled, have a service-related mouth injury or were a prisoner of war.  It’s estimated that 470,390 veterans live in Tennessee.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Interested veterans need an appointment to receive care and should call 1-844-AspenHMM (1-844-277-3646) to find a participating practice in their community and schedule an appointment in advance – space is limited and appointments are filling-up fast!
  • Spread the word in your community! Be sure to use #HealthyMouthMovement and @AspenDental when posting on Twitter and Facebook. Below are some sample posts you can share.

Best,

jeff syracuse

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Donelson Neighborhood News - April 2019

I’m pleased to report that a short but high priority stretch of sidewalk that I’ve been advocating for many years has been funded.  I took this picture one morning on my way to the gym and posted it to Instagram as a reminder to of what motivates me.  For almost two decades, I’ve watched my neighbors walk the white line on the edge of Lebanon Pike to make it to the WeGo bus stop.  I’ve seen elderly, mothers with babies in strollers and even school children cross from the other side of Lebanon Pike across four lanes and a median to get into Donelson Hills.  It can’t be built fast enough.

Donelson Hills Unsafe Area For Pedestrians

Speaking of unsafe areas for pedestrians, Walk Bike Nashville has launched an “” initiative to highlight the most dangerous areas in Davidson County to cross.  It is based on 2010-2013 crash data from Public Works where pedestrian injury and/or fatalities have occurred.  I support the work of Walk Bike Nashville and encourage everyone to join them.  Here is data specific to District 15.

Impossible Crossings

Thanks to the Spence Enclave Home Owner’s Association for inviting me out to their annual Spring meeting on March 23rd.  At that meeting, the engineer and real estate representative for the buyer as part of a development team working on a small strip center at 1510 Lebanon Pike came to present their proposal.  It would be the first development that would adhere to the requirements of the Lebanon Pike Study we spent time putting together last year.  The proposal would redevelop the property (currently a former single family home being used as an office for a cab company) into a small strip center that would be anchored by a Burger King.  While no one is thrilled at the concept of a Burger King, the development team assured neighbors that their desired tenants with the other two or three spaces would be quality and not anything to lower the quality of the area (i.e. cash advance / payday loan, vape shop, etc.).  They are scheduled to be at the Planning Commission on Thursday, April 25th.  This is a public hearing and the meeting starts at 4pm.  Keep tabs with the Planning Commission’s website here where the agenda will be released (generally a week before the meeting).  There will be three readings then at Council and the second will also be a public hearing.

Burger King coming to Donelson

Save the date!  Saturday, May 18th from 8am – noon will be our annual spring clean-up for Districts 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.  If your neighborhood would like to participate in a clean-up project, please contact Michele Mazzu at mazzum5@gmail.com and she can help support you with supplies.  I hear there will be a “Dumpster Diner” at the bulk item drop off location at McGavock High School.

Dumpster Diner

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Donelson School News - April 2019

Congratulations to McGavock Elementary 4th graders Quetzaly Roman Loaeza and Veronica Vargas Alonso for winning the Nashville Beautiful Art Contest showcasing the importance of recycling in the county.  Their art will be displayed on this truck pictured below for a whole year!

McGavock Elementary

I had a blast reading “Going Places” to Ms. Finley’s 3rd grade class at Pennignton Elementary as part of Read Across America Week.  I think the picture below shows how much fun these kids were.  They are definitely “going places”!

Pennington Elementary

The CMA Foundation, the national music education nonprofit and the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, will host its fourth annual Music Teachers of Excellence Awards on April 30th, 2019, and John David Hazlett, Director of Bands at McGavock High School is among the honorees!  The invite-only event will honor 30 music educators from across the country for their dedication and commitment to music education in their classroom and throughout their school community.  The CMA Foundation created the Music Teachers of Excellence program in 2016 in an effort to recognize the best and brightest music teachers from Nashville and beyond.  Award recipients are selected because of their dedication to bringing a quality music program to their students and the impact they’ve had on their school community through music.  In addition to a night of celebration, Mr. Hazlett will receive $2,500 to invest in his music classroom to help drive their program forward and an additional $2,500 as a personal stipend.

John David Hazlett

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Donelson Business News - April 2019

Congratulation to our new Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Terri Williams Nutter!  The DH Chamber release a press release, which is as follows:  Terri has an eclectic employment history.  She currently serves as Children’s Minister at Donelson Church of Christ, a position she has held for four years.  She holds an affiliate broker’s license with Beck & Beck Real Estate, Inc., and has 20 years’ experience in residential real estate.  Originally from Memphis, Terri moved to the Donelson area at the age of 17 to work as an entertainer at Opryland and has lived in the Donelson-Hermitage area off and on for over 40 years.  She worked in Branson, Missouri, in the height of its popularity as a destination, and after returning to Tennessee, performed again at Opryland and in the Music Valley area of Donelson, as well as in Pigeon Forge.  She has sung on the Grand Ole Opry, is a published songwriter, and was a recording artist at Warner Bros. Records.  She has also traveled and performed internationally.  Terri was the co-producer of Branson Fest for fourteen years and producer of the 1994 Branson Area Festival of Lights lighting ceremony for the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.  She has served as VIP and Volunteer Committee Co-Chair for United Cerebral Palsy, was the Community Relations Chairperson for Friends of Nashville School of the Arts, and toured the state as an ambassador with Gov. Lamar Alexander and other celebrities and dignitaries as part of Tennessee Homecoming ‘86.  She is currently the 2019 Chair of the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce Women In Business and a current class member of Leadership Donelson-Hermitage.  She is a member of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors and of Donelson Church of Christ.

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New Donelson Branch Library Groundbreaking, Petition Signing Brunch & Lunch Tour and Why I Voted No on Amazon’s Incentive

Dear Friends –

I’m excited to announce that the closing happened on the piece of Donelson Plaza where Castner Knott was located and as they say the “keys have passed and checks have cashed”.  The people of Nashville-Davidson County own a central piece of property in the heart of Donelson where we will start a new era in Donelson’s future with a beautiful new 25,000 square foot Donelson Branch Library.  To celebrate this and kick off the work about to commence, I invite you to join Mayor David Briley and me at a groundbreaking on Monday, May 13th at 10:00am.  What will begin to occur soon is roadwork improvements, sidewalks and other related infrastructure upgrades.  The library construction likely won’t begin until early next year once the groundwork is laid with all the infrastructure.  Exciting times are ahead.  Keep tabs on the new website for Donelson Plaza.

Donelson Plaza Site Plan

I’m so thankful to everyone who came out to my Birthday Party and Re-Election Kick Off.  My big thanks to Barrett Hobbs and all the staff at Scoreboard Bar & Grill.  They did a fantastic job and it was a special night.  Thanks to each and every one of you who came and showed your support.   Big thanks to my Treasurer, Jenny White, former 15th District Beautification Commissioner Naomi Regensburg and my son Joey for managing the front table where folks signed in and contributed.  Scoreboard’s regular Wednesday night musical entertainment was of course among the great singer, songwriter and musicians, Randy Moore.  Check out his incredible career here.  Everyone who contributed helped create a truly strong foundation for this campaign that will help ensure success in August on Election Day.  So again, my sincere thanks!  Here’s a few pictures of the evening.  Thanks to everyone for singing Happy Birthday to me.  It was a fun night!

Jeff Syracuse Re Election Campaign

Jeff Syracuse Re Election Campaign

Jeff Syracuse Re Election Campaign

Jeff Syracuse Re Election Campaign

The next step in the election process is to secure signatures of my 15th District neighbors to get my name on the ballot.  So, in keeping with the theme of having an enjoyable time on this campaign, I thought I’d do a “Brunch & Lunch Tour of Donelson”.  We’ve had so many great restaurants open up over the last handful of years in addition to the ones we know and love, so I thought as part of this process, we’d support local and gather together for coffee or a meal and I can also hear your thoughts, ideas or any issues you’d like to chat about.  Here’s the schedule of where I’ll be and when and I hope you’ll come out to support our local restaurants, sign my petition and chat about Donelson.

I’ll have a newly printed batch of fridge magnets.  They’ve been a big hit during this past term and I ran out about six months ago.  I’ll have them at all of our brunch & lunch meet-ups.

Fridge Magnets - Jeff Syracuse Re Election Campaign

As you may have read in the Tennessean, I spoke out against Amazon’s job incentive package.  To reiterate what I said on the Council floor, I welcome and support Amazon’s investment in Nashville.  It is historic in that it’s the single largest jobs announcement in Tennessee’s history.  I also don’t have a problem with supporting the standard jobs incentive package that we’ve been using for years.  From a broader perspective, I understand the discussion on whether or not we need to use these incentive packages.  The reality is that most all cities across the US are authorized by their State governments to use them and they do so as a competitive tool.  Unless there is some change at the federal level that equalizes their use, they’re not going anywhere and we will lose out on quality economic development in Metro if we don’t compete.  That said, what crosses the line for me with Amazon’s incentive is the correlation between asking for a jobs incentive while at the same time at the federal level, fighting against an equitable royalty rate for streaming services that is a fundamental income stream to the job of being a songwriter.  This coming month, I celebrate 20 years working at BMI, where I’ve worked tirelessly to line the pockets of songwriters, not shareholders.  While the streaming rate in question is a totally separate copyright than the area I’m involved with in my day job (mechanicals vs. public performance), songwriters have struggled immensely to maintain the stability of their own jobs over the last two decades as digital technologies have brought massive change to the way we all listen to music.  That has resulted in a stark drop in working songwriters right here in Nashville.  Even so, Nashville remains the place where the most concentration of songwriters live in any city in the world.  With the recent unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act in Congress that paves the way for stability for the industry and the January 2018 decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (a panel of federal judges that set the standard rates for royalties), we are finally getting to a place where songwriters will be able to eventually make a living wage for their craft again.  We can never take for granted what makes use Music City, USA.  Amazon, Spotify, Google and Pandora have all appealed the CRB’s gradual raising of the streaming rate.  Only Apple Music decided not to appeal.  My objection to Amazon’s jobs incentive deal is taking a stand with our neighbors here across Davidson County who do not deserve to be asked by a massive company that generated $11.2 billion in profit last year to take more money from their pockets if they are not going to respect an equitable rate for songwriter royalties.  That said, I’ve had respectful conversations with Amazon and while I will voted No on their jobs incentive, I pledged to work with them and engage them in our music community.

As the Chair of Metro Council’s Parks, Library & Arts Committee, I was proud to sponsor a resolution recognizing Metro Art’s 40th Anniversary.  A presentation of the resolution was presented at Metro Council recently.

Metro Arts

Metro Arts Annual Report for FY18 was released and I’m especially proud that they have positively impacted every district in the county.  I encourage you to read it here.

Also as Chair of Parks, Library & Arts, I had the duty to address the issue of the imminent destruction of the cherry trees at Riverfront Park.  Upon learning of the shocking news that 21 cherry trees would be cut down to make room for the NFL Draft stage, the public outcry was intense and rightfully so.  I am pleased that we were able to work with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation and the Mayor’s Office to stop that plan and instead only transplant 10 trees.  It is indeed a difficult time of year to transplant trees successfully, but I have faith in our horticulturist with Metro Parks who believes they can be saved.  During our regular Committee meeting, I asked our Parks Director, Monique Odom, Randall Lantz, Parks Horticulturist, and Butch Spyridon, CEO of our Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, to give us an update on the situation.  To ensure that we had enough room to fit everyone who wished to be part of the committee proceedings, I moved the committee meeting to the Council Chambers.  We all learned a lot and I have a better understanding of how to improve the overall coordination and transparency of our urban forestry and tree policies.  As I stated in the proceedings that you can watch here, I pledge to continue working towards that end.  Here is a fact sheet from Parks about the cherry trees.

The Davidson County Election Commission is hiring poll workers.  Please see below for more info.  Don’t forget that if you’re new to Davidson County or have moved, the link above will give you all the information you need to register or update your voter registration and provide a full calendar of this year’s important election.

Now Hiring Poll Workers in Davison County

Now Hiring Poll Workers in Davison County

I was happy to have had the opportunity visit WKRN News Channel 2 before the March 5th Council Meeting to discuss the agenda and the latest happenings at Council.  I enjoyed my time with anchors Nikki Burdine and Neil Orne.

News Channel

Speaking of happenings at Council, I was very happy to learn of Mayor Briley’s announcement that all Metro employees would be receiving their cost of living adjustments as well as step raises in his proposed budget.  That is a good start.  We’ve unfortunately been seeing plenty of strife happening with Metro Schools with Board Member Will Pinkston resigning and Director Shawn Joseph announcing he won’t be seeking a contract extension past 2020.  I’m very thankful for our District 4 School Board Member Anna Shepherd’s calm and confident leadership.  She has always been a presence of stability on our school board.  Ensuring we fully fund our schools is another essential aspect to the upcoming budget cycle and it will be vitally important we work closely with the school board and administration to pass a budget that reflects that Metro schools are indeed a top priority.  Metro employees, schools and public safety need to be made our top priorities in the upcoming budget.

Best,

jeff syracuse

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Donelson Neighborhood News - March 2019

Thanks to neighbors in the Pennington Bend area for your diligence and working together and taking care of each other during the recent major rain event that nearly caused some horrible flooding.  I was in constant contact with our Office of Emergency Management.  I encourage everyone to review the OEM link and review the NERVE system, which will be a key communication portal for everyone should it be fully activated in a major event.  OEM and NERVE were partially activated during the previous event.  My thanks as well to the Red Cross, who set up a shelter at McGavock High School.  McGavock also was served as a staging area for Metro Police before they headed into the neighborhood to communicate to neighbors to recommend evacuations.  Fortunately, we dodged a bullet and the rain stopped.  However, due to the incredible amount of rain, water levels on the Cumberland River will remain elevated for some time.  I also strongly encourage everyone to follow the Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s website and social media platforms.  They are very informative.  The Corps of Engineers has done a very good job managing their dams and water levels to avoid flooding.

Save the date!  Saturday, May 18th from 8am – noon will be our annual spring clean-up for Districts 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.  If your neighborhood would like to participate in a clean-up project, please contact Michele Mazzu at mazzum5@gmail.com and she can help support you with supplies.

It’s always good to be with neighbors who are working to strengthen their neighborhoods.  Thanks to Lincoya Hills Neighborhood Association neighbors for inviting me to gather with them at Caliber Coffee recently to enjoy time with old friends and meet some new neighbors.  My thanks as well to Officers from our Hermitage Precinct for attending as well.  LHNA Board Member Mike Windus for snapping this picture of LHNA President Jenny White, 15th District Beautification Commissioner Michele Mazzu and me.

Lincoya Hills Neighborhood Association

I ran across this original map of one of our district’s neighborhoods – Creekside Heights.  I love history and thought I’d share this.  It’s kind of hard to read, but still neat to see one of the original plans for one of our neighborhoods.

Creekside Heights - Original map of one of our district’s neighborhoods

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Donelson Non-Profit News - March 2019

Big news for Hip Donelson!  It’s their 10th Anniversary!  As such, there is a special sponsorship packet available for the upcoming Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market as well as special events this year to celebrate.  Hip D is bringing back Hip Supports Local events as well as a special commemorative t-shirt to show your pride in Donelson.  This will be a great year to celebrate service to our community, remember Frank Trew and his extraordinary efforts to make Hip Donelson what it is today and kick off the next decade of being thankful for living in a great community.  This will be the second year the Hip Donelson Farmers Market will be at Two Rivers Mansion and I hope you will consider being a sponsor and support another great year for the market! (Click image below to see full spnosorship package)

2019 Hip Donelson Sponsorship Deck

FiftyForward Donelson Station will be having their annual Pancake Breakfast, plant sale and other activities on Saturday, April 13th.  See flyer below for details and phone number to inquire further.  Also, special this year will be a “Planting for Pollinators” with 15th District Beautification Commissioner Michele Mazzu from 10am – 11am.  Bees, butterflies and other insects help to fertilize plants as well as add natural beauty to out landscapes.  Learn which plants pollinators love and things to avoid in order to attract them to your garden.  There will be a giveaway of five pollinator loving plants.

Fifty Forward Pancake Breakfast

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Donelson Non-Profit News - February 2019

I’m thrilled that our American Legion Post 88 will be building a brand new facility on McCampbell Avenue.  I was honored to attend the ground breaking ceremony.  Below is a picture of me reviewing the plans with Post 88 Commander Len Chappell.  Also, as part of their efforts to continue raising money for their new home, they have launched a brick campaign.  See flyer below.  Please spread the word and help them sell out of these bricks to make it an even more special place that honors our Veterans.

American Legion Post 88

 

Bricks for Sale for the American Legion Post 88

The American Legion asked me to take part in judging their oratory contest as part of their High School Oratorical Scholarship Program.  It was held on Saturday, February 9th at Lakewood Baptist Church at 400 Donelson Pike.  See the flyers below to learn more about this great program.

Oratorical Promotion Brochure

 

Oratorical Promotion Brochure

Joey and I attended a wonderful Holiday concert from the Nashville Singers.  They are a fantastic group and are a non-profit entity that also gives back through scholarships for music education.  I was honored to present a proclamation from Mayor Briley to the group at the concert held at Lebanon Road Church of Christ.

Proclamation of the Nashville Singers

I was very happy to learn about an Insight Counseling Center location being added to Andrew Price United Methodist Church.  They offer services that support individuals and families.  I was happy to join Pam Brown, Carol Smith and Karen Montgomery with Insight Counseling and Andrew Price UMC Senior Pastor Melisa Derseweh and Trustee Ralph Foley to help them cut the ribbon on the new center.

Insight Counseling Center

Hip Donelson Lost & Found Pets will be hosting their annual chili cook-off at the Buchanan Log House on February 23rd.  See flyer below for details on entering your championship winning chili recipe.  Just $10 to taste each chili.  Proceeds benefit Hip D Lost & Found Pets and the Buchanan Log House.

Hip D Lost Found Pets Fundraiser

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Donelson School News - February 2019

It’s not too soon to be thinking about summer employment for your teen.  The Opportunity Now program is Nashville’s youth employment initiative, working to provide young people ages 14-24 access to employment.  See flyer below for details.

Opportunity Now Youth Program

 

I was thrilled to be able to recently help facilitate bringing an interactive Blues in the Schools program to Two Rivers Middle Prep. Shannon “Bayou” Williford is a Metro Parks employee and along with Bentley Caldwell and Casey “Grandpa” Lutton, performed for the students and led them in creating and performing their own song as well as teaching an understanding and appreciation of blues and its impact on our history and culture. Best yet, this is a free program for our schools with support from the Music Performance Trust Fund, Nashville Fringe Festival and Nashville Musicians AFM Local 257.”

Blues in the Schools

Blues in the Schools

Blues in the Schools

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