Jeff Syracuse

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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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Donelson Business News - February 2019

I was happy to join Mayor Briley, Ryman Hospitality CEO Colin Reed and members of Marriott’s leadership team to cut the ribbon on the new SoundWaves water park at Opryland.  Remember that there is a special Davidson County resident discount.

SoundWaves Water Park at Opryland

I joined the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and team at the Better Business Bureau on celebrating their move from downtown to Century City.  They very much needed larger office space as they’ve grown over the years.

Better Business Bureau

Congratulations and welcome to Nashville Piano Rescue!  As a piano player, I’m of course very subjective, but they do fantastic work.  If you’ve ever wanted a piano but were afraid of the cost, go check them out.  They’re a great addition to the music shops that have come to town over the past few years like Blues Vintage Guitars and William’s Fine Violins & Luthiers.

Welcome Nashville Piano Rescue!

The Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce’s 11th Annual “Taste of Donelson-Hermitage” will be March 25th at The Inn at Opryland.  Call the Chamber at 615-883-7896 for more info or to save a space.

It fills me with great pride to drive past the former Papa Murphy’s building one morning with the sun shining down on it and an “Available” sign on it.  I have spent this entire term fighting against an attempt by a predatory lender trying to skirt regulations and illegally expand into this building, which would have degraded the character and quality of Donelson’s central business district and continued to exploit our most vulnerable neighbors.  I’m proud of the legislation I passed strengthening regulations and we finally defeated them in the court system as they left the building abandoned and instead challenged regulations up through the TN State Court of Appeals.  I’m very pleased to see these efforts have finally paid off and we will hopefully see a new business here that we can all be proud of and warmly welcome. For more info on this listing, visit here.

Papa Murphys Building is Available

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Looking ahead to 2019, My Re-Election Announcement and Much More

Dear Friends –

While two months of 2019 are almost already past us, this is my first newsletter of the year and I hope everyone had a good Holiday Season with family and friends. While I did have some real quality time to enjoy with my friends and family and especially my son Joey, I have kept a full schedule in the community over the past couple of months.  Some highlights are included in their respective sections below.

Probably the most major event that happened over the last couple of months since my last newsletter is that our new library was solidified and work has already begun at Donelson Plaza (check out their new website!).  Most of 2019’s activity will consist of infrastructure, road work and sidewalks.  Our new library construction won’t likely start until the end of this year or early next year, but the great news is that we’ve achieved a huge milestone and the new library and revitalized Donelson Plaza will breathe new life into the heart of our community.

Check out this news clip from 1963 when the land was purchased for our current library.  Thanks to our Nashville Library Director Kent Oliver for sending this to me.

Donelson Library News Clip

Hard to believe that it’s 2019 and that means its election year for Metro Council and Mayor.  With all of last year’s special elections (and even one going on currently in District 29 to replace CM Karen Johnson who was elected our Property Assessor) this year will be the final term of some talented community leaders who are great people and with whom I’ve enjoyed serving.  For other districts, like here in District 15, those of us who were new in 2015 are running for re-election.  This has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life and I have grown both professionally and personally.  I have worked hard to keep neighborhoods strong and represented, small businesses supported, encouraged and facilitated new businesses to invest here and much more.  Please visit my website to read about the legislation I have passed and things I’ve accomplished this term.  I am humbly asking for your support to continue serving District 15 for a second and final term.  There has been a lot I have been very fortunate to accomplish but there is more to do.  To support my reelection financially or to volunteer, please visit the Get Involved section of my website.  As always, my sincere and humble thanks for the support and privilege of representing a wonderful community.

Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

As part of what I’d like to make progress on over the next term is greater public and private support for the Music City Star to increase ridership and number of trips.  The recent purchase of the Nashville & Eastern Rail Corporation by R.J. Corman Company was good news as they offer more resources and a broad experience in the rail business to help us achieve our goals.  As a Board Member of the Nashville & Eastern Rail Authority, we finalized approval of this purchase recently and are looking forward to working with the new ownership.  No changes or investments will happen immediately, but I’m hopeful that this new ownership brings new energy and focus to continue the NERR’s success.  As I explained in my last newsletter, we are capped at 12 trips per day during the week with the Music City Star until we can invest in Positive Train Control.  However, that cap does not include the weekends as long as they are privately sponsored trips.  With that in mind, I’ve worked with our Regional Transit Authority to create the below marketing flyer and we will begin to more proactively work with the Nashville Chamber, Convention & Visitors Corporation and other organizations to showcase this opportunity when large events and conventions continue to come to Nashville.Music City Star Event Sponsorship


Music City Star Event Sponsorship

The RTA Board of Directors has given approval for an extension of last year’s Vets for the Holidays program so that military veterans can ride RTA commuter bus services and the Music City Star commuter train for free.  The program, which ran from November 1 to December 31, 2018, was a first for the RTA.  It aimed to make public transportation services more accessible to military veterans, both as a gesture of appreciation and in recognition of the fact that access to transportation services is a critical resource for returning and disabled veterans as they connect to medical, employment, and support services while reintegrating to civilian life.  To qualify, participants need only show a valid form of military veteran identification to the RTA bus operator or Music City Star train conductor.  Forms of identification that will be accepted are:

  • DD Form 2 (Retired United States Uniformed Services Identification Card)
  • Tennessee Driver’s License or Identification Card with "Veteran" designation on front
  • VA Health Benefits Identification Card
  • DD214 form in lieu of a Veteran's identification card

For more information on the Vets for the Holidays program, contact RTA Customer Care at 615-862-5950 from 6:30am to 6:30pm on weekdays, 8am to 5pm on Saturdays and 10:30am to 2:30pm on Sundays, or visit

The Donelson Pike / I-40 interchange project may very well begin within the year, pending final logistic preparations by TDOT and the Metro Nashville Airport Authority.  It’s a complex project that will ultimately bring a dynamic interchange that is safer, more efficient and accommodates the rapid growth at the airport.  Below is a graphic and more information about this project.

Donelson Pike Relocation


Donelson Pike Relocation

Here’s something I received late last year that I thought I’d share.  Metro Water Services was pretty busy during FY18 with maintenance service requests in the district.  Our Metro Water Department does a great job. They are working hard on addressing all the many issues throughout the county associated with the incredible amount of rain we’ve had lately. I’m turning them in to them as folks send issues to me. I strongly encourage everyone to use Hub Nashville so that you have a record of the request. It’s the most efficient way to request service from a Metro Department.

Metro Water Services SW FY18

Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation announced today that two bridges on the main paved Shelby Bottoms Greenway Trail are closed. The bridge located at the 1.75 to 2.0 mile marker will close on February 19 and reopen at noon, Friday, February 22. The bridge located at the 2.0 to 2.5 mile marker is closed indefinitely. Damage from recent heavy rains is the cause of needed repairs to both bridges. Users are advised to find alternate routes.

Shelby Bottoms Bridge Closings

You’ve no doubt seen or read a bit about our debt situation in the news.  That on top of hearing about our budget shortfall last year that led to us not being able to fund promised cost of living adjustments to Metro employees is certainly continued disconcerting news.  Below is a report from our Finance Director with a report on our audited fiscal 2018 year-end status.  While our bond rating and revenues continue to be very strong, I believe there is consensus that we can’t sustain the level of debt spending that we’ve done over the past decade.  The efforts to rebound from the recession and flood have obviously been successful and I’m thankful now that what Mayor Briley has said is that this next budget will focus on the basics and ensure we keep a strong foundation of funding public safety and education while taking care of our Metro employees.  We have made strong investments over the past decade and revenues show that, we just now need to pay our debts accordingly and manage sustainable growth.

Finance Director


Finance Director

Finance Director

Pursuant to BL2018-1184, a “Blue Ribbon Commission” was established to to identify government inefficiencies, practices, transfer payments, third party payments and subsidies with the targeted goal of achieving budgetary cost savings of $20 million in annual savings. The goals of the Commission should further include identification of potential savings — from both the operating and capital budgets — including one-time and on-going savings.  Residents can submit their suggestions for savings.  To learn more about this commission and to submit your suggestion, visit this link.

Metro Arts' robust grants program distributes just over $2.4 million annually for operational and project-based funding for arts activities taking place in Metro Nashville-Davidson County.  Non-profit organizations interested in applying can find the FY20 Grants Guidelines on the Metro Arts website. Applications must be submitted using our online grants management system, WebGrants.  New applicants are encouraged to register for an account in WebGrants as soon as possible. 

Important FY20 Grants application dates:

  • January 23, 2019: FY20 online application available in WebGrants
  • January 31, 2019: New applicant training video available on Metro Arts' YouTube channel
  • March 20, 2019 4:30pm: Operating support application deadline
  • March 27, 2019 4:30pm: Project support application deadline

Eligible property tax owners over 65 may qualify for the Tax Relief program (income less than $29,270) and the Tax Freeze program (income less than $41,780). Totally disabled and Disabled Veterans also may qualify.  Our Metro Trustee staff members will be on hand at Fifty Forward Donelson Station on February 19th from 10am-noon to answer questions and help you sign up.  See flyer below for details.

Tax Relief Handout



Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

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First Term Legislation and Accomplishments (2015 – 2019)


I’m proud to share some of my accomplishments while serving Donelson in my first term.

  • Continued my strong commitment and service to Donelson’s neighborhoods:

    • Led Donelson Neighborhood leader gatherings to report on district work and listen to neighborhood leaders.
    • Worked closely with 20+ neighborhoods and engage directly with their social media pages.
    • Actively engaged with our 15th District Beautification Commissioner Michele Mazzu in leading beautification efforts with The Donelson Gateway Project, Day of Trewth and multiple other initiatives.
    • Acted on a policy of always having neighborhood meetings before any zoning legislation is filed that would impact them.
    • Continued engagement with Hip Donelson and the Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market as volunteer.
    • 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:

Co-sponsored a resolution welcoming and honoring the Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding as the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville

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Donelson TOD Call To Action

The heart of Donelson can be revitalized to include a new Branch Library as the civic anchor for a new, walkable Donelson Plaza town center along with a transformed Donelson Station from a parking lot to an active walkable village.
We all want the heart of Donelson to be a vibrant place with unique character that celebrates our history and includes renewed opportunities to invest in places to shop, work, live, learn and play.
We have a great opportunity to make this happen, but I need your help!
Contact Metro Council today to express your support for the Donelson Transit Oriented Development District.
Please email and ask my Colleagues to vote YES on BL2018-1139!

Donelson Urban Overlay in Downtown Donelson

Donelson Station in Downtown Donelson

The Donelson Transit Oriented Development District (“TOD”) helps fulfill the vision for our community that we expressed in 2009 when we enacted the “Downtown Donelson” Urban Design Overlay.  The Donelson TOD is built on this foundation and is supported by enabling bipartisan State legislation passed by our own State Senator Steve Dickerson and State Representative Darren Jernigan.

Facts about the Donelson TOD and the future of our Music City Star Donelson Station:

  • Helps focus transit-oriented, mixed-use development supporting Donelson Station and the area around it.
  • Fosters an environment to build and preserve affordable housing options within walking distance to Donelson Station.
  • Locates and supports modernization of Donelson Station to be well-lit, visible and accessible by all.  Promotes transit options from Donelson Station to the Nashville Airport.
  • Provides for new public improvements that will benefit everyone such as the new Donelson Branch Library, improved Donelson Station and walkable options for recreation, shopping and urban living.
  • Uses the Urban Design Overlay standards for harmonious rehabilitation of existing buildings amongst new development and moves away from disjointed development.
  • Prohibits new alternative financial service businesses (i.e. cash advance / payday loan) and non-owner occupied Short Term Rentals.
  • Solidifies the Design Review Committee makeup to include two representatives from 15th District neighborhoods as well as a property owner in the TOD district who are appointed by the 15th District Council Member.
  • Promotes & creates safer roads, walkways, Greenways and accessibility to Donelson Station, focusing on new sidewalks, updated crosswalks & better lighting.

The State legislation authorizes the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to support transit infrastructure, economic development and affordable housing to keep Donelson attainable for families, seniors and hardworking Nashvillians with the skyrocketing costs of housing.  TIF has typically been used as an incentive for big business.  It’s time that we focus these economic development incentives on MAIN Street instead of WALL Street.  This is Community Building, not Corporate Welfare!
Please email Metro Council today ( and ask them to vote YES on BL2018-1139!


Councilman Jeff Syracuse

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Donelson Non-Profit News - July 2018

I was very happy to visit and enjoy lunch with the Stones River Women’s Club at Two Rivers Mansion.  I appreciated the opportunity to share what’s going on in the community and thank them for all their great work taking good care of the interior of Two Rivers Mansion. 

Stones River Womens Club

Stones River Womens Club

The Friends of Two Rivers Mansion were the recipients of an Architectural Award by the Metro Historic Commission for their work restoring the 1802 Buchanan – Harding Home, which is the original brick home on the property.  If you haven’t yet toured the property, now is a great time, especially as part of the Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market on Friday’s.  Below is Friends of Two Rivers Mansion Founder and President Emeritus (and former 15th District Council Member) Phil Claiborne accepting the award presented by Mayor David Briley, Metro Historic Executive Director Tim Walker and Metro Historic Commission Chair Jim Forkum.  Also below are flyers about upcoming events and a membership special.

Two Rivers Mansion Architectural Award

Two Rivers Mansion Architectural Award

I’m very proud of my son Joey for doing his Eagle Project for Two Rivers Mansion.  Down the hill on the other side of the Greenway is the original spring house, carriage house and trail loop.  Joey built a bridge as part of the trail going over a natural spring.  It turned out great.  He and his grandfather were the engineers and his Scout Troop 777 helped with the build.  Soon there will be directional signage to the Spring House Trail Loop.

Eagle Project for Two Rivers Mansion

Eagle Project for Two Rivers Mansion

Thanks to work of Donelson’s VFW 1291 and Semper Sliders, Nashville is going to experience the debut of Nashville Patriot Fest at Nissan Stadium during the weekend of July 27th.  What was envisioned to be a pragmatic first ever event, the outpouring of support for this has made it poised to be a phenomenal weekend supporting our military, first responders, teachers, nurses and all who serve to protect and support families.  Proceeds will support non-profits who support these Patriots.  Special thanks to Semper Sliders owner Zach Jenkins and the whole team who has organized this.  Please check out the link above for more info and to buy tickets.

Congratulations to the Friends of Buchanan Station Cemetery for raising the funds for this bench at Buchanan Station Cemetery.  The cemetery will be on a future stretch of the Mill Creek Greenway and this will be a great opportunity to stop and learn about a fundamental aspect of Nashville history here.  Photo credit to Joe Cathey.

Friends of Buchanan Station Cemetery

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Donelson School News - July 2018

Metro School is hiring Crossing Guards.  If interested in applying for a position, please call 615-862-7752.  Thank you!

Check out these pictures from STEAM Camp (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) at Margaret Allen Middle School, which was funded by a grant from Dell here in Nashville.  These kids had a great time and learned new skills.

Margaret Allen STEAM Camp

Margaret Allen STEAM Camp

Margaret Allen STEAM Camp

Pennington United Methodist Church is collecting backpacks and school supplies for Pennington Elementary during the month of June and end with a “Home of the Brave” patriotic concert at the church on Sunday, July 1st at 5pm.  For a list of supplies, visit their website here.

Congratulations to McGavock High School, who was awarded five awards at the 8th Annual Academies of Nashville Awards:

  • Academy Teacher of the Year: CTE or Thematic Pathway

Jessie Lumpkins, Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Life Sciences & Law at McGavock High School

  • Academy Teacher of the Year: General and Global Education

Scott Fisher, The Academy of Aviation & Transportation at McGavock High School

  • Externship Project of the Year

Aegis Science Corporation and the Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Life Sciences & Law at McGavock High School

  • Academy of the Year

The Academy of Aviation & Transportation at McGavock High School

  • Academy Partnership of the Year: Arts, Media and Communications

Rocketown and the Academy of Digital Design and Communication at McGavock High School

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Donelson Business News - July 2018

Congratulations to Masonry Specialty Contractors on the groundbreaking of their new building at 2540 Park Drive.  Thanks to Greg Holland and his team for investing in Donelson and expanding their business.

Masonry Specialty Contractors come to Donelson!

Spot’s Pet Supply & Dog Wash is coming to Donelson!  They’ll be located at 2412 Lebanon Pike where Trojan Labor used to be.  The building is looking like their signature Dalmatian (spots painted by Two Rivers Middle school students).  They will open July 1st and their grand opening party will be Saturday, July 14th. 

Check out this great coming soon video showing the progress of the building.  Thanks to Andy & Chad Baker for investing in Donelson!

Thanks to the Music Valley Merchant’s Association and Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation for putting together a Music Valley – Traditions of Nashville Package to market tourism and hospitality in Music Valley.  Spread the word to your family and friends who are visiting here to take advantage of this opportunity.

A new business in the Music Valley area is AxeVentures.  That’s right.  Axe throwing!  Kind of like darts, but more exciting.  They offer leagues and more.  Check them out.

Zulema’s Kitchen opened their second location here in Donelson at the corner of Graylynn Drive / Lebanon Pike and has been a big hit.  Read more about them here in this article in the Tennessean.

Caliber Coffee has been another big hit since they opened.  Their food and coffee are delicious.  Give them a try!

Party Fowl should be open by the end of July.  The build-out is coming along great.

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Donelson Neighborhood News - July 2018

I was honored to present a proclamation to Roland White as he turns 80-years young and was recently inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame.  Congratulations, Roland!  Be sure to catch one of Roland’s shows at Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace and at the legendary Station Inn.

Proclamation for Roland White

I will be having a community meeting on Thursday, July 19th at 6pm at Lakewood Baptist Church at 400 Donelson Pike for Woodberry Park neighbors in regards to a rezoning proposal of Donelson Pike 222-228, the four single family homes that have mostly been abandoned over the past few years.  There is a proposal for a mixed-use development.  Below is a preliminary schematic of the proposal.

Donelon Pike Mixed Use Plans

The Fairway Drive Sidewalk Project is finally underway!  As you drive on Fairway Drive, please take caution and slow down.  Currently, Piedmont Natural Gas is relocating a gas line.  It should take several months to complete.

Thanks to everyone who attended our community meeting at Grace Church of the Nazarene regarding the non-owner occupied short term rental that had a huge party and an AK-47 was used to shoot up the house.  Thanks to Commander Preston Brandimore, Sergeant Jeff White and the detectives working the case for updating neighbors on the status of the investigation.  Thanks as well to Codes Director Bill Herbert for coming to explain steps taken as well as the impact of the newly enacted State legislation, which limits the authority of what action we can take now in regards to STR’s.  The positive tangible step that came out of the meeting is the beginnings of forming a more solid communication network for Miami Avenue residents and hopefully a formal Neighborhood Watch.

Thanks to 15th District Beautification Commissioner Michele Mazzu for hosting a “Dirt on Composting” community forum at FiftyForward Donelson Station.  Here is more information on composting from Metro as well as Compost Nashville has a lot of information on their site as well.

The Dirt On Composting at FiftyForward Donelson Station

Michelle continues these educational community meetings on Saturday August 4th at FiftyForward Donelson Station with a Recycling 101, which is a class that presents an overview on the importance of waste reduction and ways that waste reduction can be met – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!  This will touch on each area for waste reduction, what Public Works is doing and what resources are available city- wide.

Congratulations to Abbington Park HOA President Rick Cowan for being appointed by Mayor Briley to serve on the Emergency Communications District Board.  Below is Rick and family meeting with Mayor Briley prior to his confirmation by Metro Council at our June 19th meeting.

Abbington Park HOA President Rick Cowan Appointed by Mayor Briley

For those in and around Abbington Park, the annexation from GSD to USD will be implemented this year.  Here is the schedule of implementation.

I continue to work on Traffic Calming efforts a great deal.  Sunset View is currently being studied and Colonial Circle is a narrow road that is used often as a cut through and needs support.  Neighborhoods that are part of the Traffic Calming Program will continue to be studied to evaluate if what was installed is working and if anything further needs to be done.  Woodberry Park is also being studied and as part, Lakeland Drive will be reduced from 35 MPH to 30 MPH.  Additionally, Hargis Heights (Stinson Road) will be studied and McGavock Pike in front of Kroger has become quite congested and the speed limit there would benefit everyone from being lowered.

Thanks to Merry Oaks neighbors for coming to Donelson Presbyterian Church to learn about the multi-family proposal at the corner of Briley Parkway / Lebanon Pike.  Overall, the feedback from neighbors was positive.  These will be market-rate and for-sale product.  They’ll only be accessible from Lebanon Pike and not be accessible from within the Merry Oaks neighborhood.  As of the writing of my newsletter, nothing has been filed yet, but once it is, it’ll go through the standard rezoning process of three readings at Council (second is public hearing) and the Planning Commission as well (also a public hearing).  Conceptual renderings are below.

Blue Hills Condos Plans


Proposed Blue Hills Condos


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August 2nd Election, FY 18/19 Budget Challenges, Donelson TOD and Library Update, Floodway Buffer Legislation and Much More

Dear Friends –

Well, I must start this newsletter with an apology.  I try hard to send out a newsletter every 4-6 weeks or so.  My last one was sent April 30th.  It’s been an extraordinarily busy 2018 with some big challenges in Metro Government.  I was very happy to see David Briley win the special Mayoral election with enough support that meant we did not need a run-off election, which would’ve cost the tax payers an additional $1 million.  Very frustrating that we even needed to spend the $1 million.  Now that the Mayoral special election is behind us, we now turn our attention to a special election for Vice Mayor, which thankfully is being included in the normal August 2nd election. 

In a consistent manor that I supported David Briley because of his strong institutional knowledge and much needed stability he brings to the Mayor’s Office, I’m also supporting Sheri Weiner for Vice Mayor, who is currently already in the seat because Council elected her as our President Pro Tempore last year, who is there to serve as Acting Vice Mayor in situations like the one we are in now.  As a new Council Member, Sheri was always there to support and encourage me as I learned the intricacies and operations of Metro government.  She is a strong leader who asks the tough questions, gets to the bottom of challenging issues and knows how to take decisive action.  Get to know Sheri and join me in supporting her.

I’m also supporting Bill Beck for re-election as our District 51 State Representative.  Bill is all about people over politics.  The main residential portion of our 15th District for Metro Nashville that is in Bill’s State House District is the west side of Pennington Bend Road.  The rest of the 15th District is in Darren Jernigan’s House District 60.  Darren doesn’t have an opponent and I believe that is a reflection of the fantastic job he is doing representing us.  Let’s keep both of these good public servants in office.

Early voting will start July 13 for the August 2nd Election Day.  Below is the voting schedule for August 2nd.

Early Voting Schedule for August 2 2018

One of the biggest (and most frustrating) challenge we’ve been facing is with the FY18/19 budget.  These should be the good years with revenues flowing as we grow faster than most cities in the U.S. and third in job growth.  So, why are we experiencing a revenue shortfall?  We have roughly a $34 million revenue shortfall.  $26 million of that is due to the fact that property values have gone through the roof as evidenced by the every four-year appraisal we just went through.  There were many successful challenges to the appraisals that were decided by the Board of Equalization and most of the budget revenue associated with the successful appeals were from large commercial properties.  About $8 million of the revenue shortfall is because of decreasing enrollment in our schools, therefore reduced State funding.  I cannot in good conscious vote for a property tax increase, although that was one of the budget proposals before us.  There are no easy answers.  I am equally frustrated that the budget I supported is not able to fund the promised Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to Metro employees.  It’s not right, but that hard decision that I chose to make was to not fix these budget challenges on the backs of Davidson County property owners.  Generally what happens after a regular property appraisal and the rate drops to make the process revenue neutral (per State law), the Mayor and Council will raise the rate up a bit to take into account appeals and additional city expenses associated with growth, schools, new infrastructure, etc.  That did not happen last year.  Perhaps it should have.  We certainly have work to do in improving our budget forecasting processes.  Our budget challenges will not go away.  We have a few challenging years ahead of us I believe.

The Donelson Transit Oriented Development District was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission on June 28th. It is currently scheduled for third and final reading on July 17th, but it first has to go to the MDHA Board for approval of an amendment I put forth regarding the structure of the Design Review Committee that reviews development proposals. Currently, the DRC is managed by MDHA for the 12 current redevelopment districts downtown. My proposed amendment to the MDHA Plan would give our community a solid seat at the table with the DRC and make it function like any other Board or Commission with nomination by the Mayor and oversight by Council. I think this is fair and follows the spirit of the intent of the State authorizing legislation by State Rep Daren Jernigan and State Senator Steve Dickerson to make this more of a partnership between MDHA and the local community where the TOD is. They have written a letter to MDHA to that fact as well. I also have an amendment that differentiates non-owner and owner-occupied short term rentals. Non-owner short term rentals should appropriately be in the prohibited use. Owner-occupied would still be allowed. I’ve been taking the slow and steady approach to this legislation, especially because it’s the first of its kind. I believe that approach is paying off and tweaks and updates to it have improved it. If the MDHA Board approves my amendment, it may need to come back to Council for a public hearing, so I’m still figuring out what dates for future Council meetings that would be. I’ve been very patient with this and committed to getting it right. Additionally, as part of discussions, a MOU was signed between MDHA and Metro Planning to take time and further study the Design Review Process of all redevelopment districts in Nashville by hiring a consultant to review best practices across the U.S. Any further improvements to the process to help streamline red tape would then come back to Metro Council and the MDHA Board for approval.

Now that legislation for our new Donelson Branch Library has passed that detailed the purchase of a portion of Donelson Plaza where it will be constructed, the surrounding infrastructure and financing arrangement as part of the Plaza master plan with Holladay Properties, we’re ready to start the community engagement process to discuss the new library, its design, programming, etc.  I posted on Facebook to begin to solicit community members who are passionate about the library and want to be at the forefront of community engagement.  I received great response.  If you’re interested, please let me know.  There will community wide meetings towards the end of September.  Stay tuned for more info.

Over the past couple of years, increased interest in developing along the Cumberland River in the Pennington Bend area has resulted in variance requests at the Board of Zoning Appeals and Stormwater Committee to build larger.  Variances are required because there are two buffers next to the floodway – Zone 1 (50 feet from the floodway) and Zone 2 (75 feet from the floodway).  Zone 1 is designated as a “Do Not Disturb” area but the Metro Code allows variances to be decided by the Stormwater Committee.  In my opinion, this is a dangerous and irresponsible practice to try and secure a variance in an area that is directly next to the floodway and designated a “Do Not Disturb” zone.  As your Councilman, it’s my job to look at how our policies and laws impact our community 10-20 years out or more.  If we allow variances and rebuild to the level of density we had pre-May 2010 flood, we will be enabling the level of destruction we saw.  That flood also resulted in large amounts of shoreline to be destroyed, reducing the level of developable property.  This is an inherent risk of owning riverfront property.  Therefore, I have legislation that will make the 50-foot buffer permanent without option to receive a variance to build in the “No Disturb Zone”.  Here’s an article in the Tennessean about this.  Below is a map that illustrates the floodway, buffers and more.  You can access this information from Metro Property Maps.  Turn on the Stromwater filter and you’ll need to adjust the opacity to better see the buffers.

Cumberland River Floodway Map

Thanks to everyone who participated the Lebanon Pike Study, focusing on future growth and preservation along Lebanon Pike from Spence Lane to Briley Parkway.  As “Downtown Donelson” begins to grow, it’s very important for the transitional area between downtown and Donelson to be well planned and guide proper growth and development.  All information is at the link above.  It passed the Planning Commission on June 28th.

I’m pleased that we will finally be cutting the ribbon on the McGavock Pike Boat Ramp at the end of McGavock Pike where it intersects with Pennington Bend Road.  It will be on Saturday, July 28th at 10am.  Mayor Briley, Vice Mayor Weiner and other community leaders will join us to cut the ribbon and open the boat dock to the public to start using if to launch non-motorized boats on the Cumberland River.

Metro is putting together a Davidson County Long Term Solid Waste Master Plan and is looking for feedback.  Please review all information here and there are survey links on the website.  This is an important aspect of ensuring we manage our growth sustainably.

I have been gathering facts and discussing what we all recently learned about as it relates to emergency medical services operations at three Nashville Fire Department stations in Davidson County.  I have discussed this with Mayor Briley, Chief Will Swann, IAFF Nashville Local 140 President Mark Young and stopped by Station 28 to sit and listen to the perspective of those serving there as well.

First, I want to address one thing that started this and prompted the media to do a story.  This began because of one member from NFD Station 28 violating NFD social media policy by posting on Hip Donelson and venting from his personal Facebook page about NFD operational decisions.  His action was inappropriate.  I heard from a lot of my neighbors immediately after that post very confused and fearful.  I refuse to react emotionally or come to a quick judgment about any issue with which I don’t have all the facts and perspectives.  Here are the facts I’ve learned from NFD:

  1. 1. Our NFD is not phasing out personnel. They are reallocating the Advanced Life Support (ALS) personnel to the outlying parts of the county where there is a greater need for ALS appratus because of distance.
  1. 2. The program of putting Paramedics on engines was instituted years ago because there was not as many ambulances in service. It was 19 at the time and now we have 28 medic units. The increase of medic units decreases the need for ALS Engines in the urban area.
  1. 3. All fire companies have EMTs and Advanced EMTs. Every Nashville fire fighter is an EMT or Advanced EMT and they are capable of treating patients with quality care.
  1. 4. Engine 28’s ALS unit will not transition to a Basic Life Support (BLS) unit in the near future. They will reassign the firefighter-paramedics to remaining ALS Engines through attrition. No one is being phased out or let go during this process.
  1. 5. Response times will not be impacted by this transition because fire fighters will continue to respond to medical calls.
  1. 6. This was a decision made several months ago and was not a function of the current budget. This was a plan that would have been implemented regardless of the budget passed recently by Metro Council.

I appreciate the input and guidance from Mark Young, President of IAFF Local 140 on this issue.  I agree we never want to see any reduction of service at any station or negative impact to NFD personnel pay rates.  Operational decisions should never compromise the level of care we receive and I will continue to support our NFD leadership who are confident this is not happening.  I do empathize and have concerns about how this potentially impacts pay rates for certain NFD personnel and stability of being able to stay at the fire hall and community they love to serve.  Leading a large county-wide Fire Department is certainly not an easy task and hard decisions have to be made, especially with the growth we are experiencing.  That should also mean our budgets need to reflect a consistent top priority to public safety and I will continue to advocate strongly for that.

Nashville MTA is now WeGo Public Transit.  The new image is part of a process that started with the adoption of the nMotion plan in 2016, and included extensive interviews and focus group testing of current riders, prospective riders, residents, business, and community leaders in Nashville, all of whom are affected by the ever-growing mobility concerns in a rapidly growing city.  It is just one part of their continuing efforts to improve public transit in Nashville as laid out in the nMotion plan, which includes a number of service enhancements as well as improvements to the customer experience.  Here’s an image of a new bus.

We Go Transit in Nashville TN


Councilman Jeff Syracuse


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Donelson Business News - April 2018

The Belair Mansion’s final site plan will go to the Planning Commission on April 26.  It will be a bed and breakfast and the original site plan is scaled back and does not have an entrance/exit on Revere Place.  Below is the site plan.

Site Improvement Plans for Belair Mansion

I’m thankful that TN Quick Cash lost their appeal at the Tennessee State Court of Appeals.  They can still appeal to the State Supreme Court and I continue to monitor this and will keep you all posted.

The Taste of Donelson-Hermitage will be on April 23rd and held at the Hilton Nashville Airport from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  See flyer below for details.

Taste of Donelson Hermitage

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Donelson School News - April 2018

The Mayor’s Art Show featuring artwork from McGavock cluster students will be at the Frist Art Museum on April 12th at 5pm.  See flyer below for details.

Mayors Art Show - Nashville Public Schools

I was very happy to attend the 2nd Annual McGavock Cluster Coalition Breakfast supporting scholarships for eligible McGavock High School Students.  Thanks to Lady Antebellum keyboardist and Musical Director Jonathan Long for speaking, who is also a McGavock alumnus.  The students did a phenomenal job serving the breakfast, hosting the event and providing entertainment.  I encourage everyone to support this annual breakfast.

McGavock Coalition Breakfast

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Our Donelson Library is Finally Moving Forward, an Update on the Donelson Transit Oriented Development District and a Day of Trewth to Honor Frank

Dear Friends –

It’s been a long time coming…  When I was first elected, I became aware that Donelson was at the top of the list as part of the strategic plan for our library system that identified the needs as far as facilities and services throughout the county.  Our Donelson Library was celebrating a bittersweet 50th Anniversary at the time, knowing that its 5,500 square feet built in 1965 had become insufficient for proper 21st century library services, which have grown far beyond just about being about books.  21st century libraries are community centers with modern technology and places to access multi-media elements such as music, movies and the internet.  As discussions began about a new library, so were discussions of how to implement our Urban Design Overlay, which envisioned a walkable, mixed-used, transit-oriented future.  It occurred to me that if we are to reimagine the heart of Donelson as a walkable town center, what the vision truly needed was a civic anchor at the heart of it.  Also during that time going back a couple years prior when I was President of the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce I began a focus of trying to find a new owner for Donelson Plaza.  Holladay Properties stepped up in a big way and embraced the vision for the heart of Donelson and also agreed to begin working with Metro towards the possibility of incorporating our new Donelson Library as part of their plans for the Plaza’s future, which is also an aging property that is a prime opportunity for bringing the vision of the community to fruition.  Since we don’t have a town square per say, centrally locating the new library was important as an anchor.  The former Castner Knott / Ace Hardware location of the Plaza seemed perfectly situated.  As these discussions continued, the JB Estille Road sidewalk project became an important aspect to implement as a boulevard-style pedestrian-friendly street that would ultimately connect the new Library with Donelson Station (which is another project that has been moving forward that will be discussed in more detail in the months ahead with community engagement as it takes shape).

My heartfelt thanks to Holladay Properties and the many Metro Offices and Departments (Mayor’s Office, Library, Finance, Legal, General Services, Water, Public Works, Planning, and Arts) that worked together towards creating a very special opportunity for Donelson to build us a new beautiful 25,000+ square foot library.  It was a complex project that took some time to engineer and cost out all the various infrastructure elements and including how to structure the financing arrangement.  As you know, we have been going through meetings regarding our potential Transit Oriented Development District.  One costly element of this project was the entire related infrastructure around the library to include a relocated Cliffdale Road connection, sidewalks, shared parking, storm water and other relocated upgraded NES, Piedmont Gas, AT&T and Comcast utilities.  One element of the TOD District is the availability of Tax Increment Financing, which allows a developer to invest more into the project in lieu of deferred property taxes that will be higher as a result of what the new development will generate.  The TIF financing availability is there to incentive infrastructure, economic development and affordable and workforce housing.  The expense of the infrastructure around library was a perfect first opportunity to utilize the TIF availability and rejuvenate the heart of Donelson.

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Donelson Non-Profit News - October 2017

The annual Halloween at the Mansion event is coming on Saturday, October 28th at Two Rivers Mansion. Trick or Treating, haunted basement, hayrides, pumpkin painting, food, music and more will make for a great tradition in the community. The Friends of Two Rivers Mansion is also seeking vendors for a $50 tax-deductible donation to the Friends group. They will supply the candy this year. See posters below for more details.

Halloween at the Mansion 1

Halloween at the Mansion 2

Mark your calendars for the annual Holy Rosary Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, November 18th. This is always a popular yearly event and this year they’ve added food trucks and entertainment. See poster below for more details.

Holy Rosary Christmas Bazaar

Larry Keeton Live Music Series Blues Night Of Music

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Donelson School News - October 2017

A wonderful story by News Channel 5 highlighted a real hero among our teachers. Tina Noel at Donelson Middle School has truly gone above and beyond to take care of her kids. Her classroom now has a food bank to help ensure none of her kids go hungry. If you'd like to contribute, you may bring donations to the front office. Call the school at (615) 884-4080 for more info.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at McGavock High School is hosting their Fields of Faith event on Wednesday, October 25th at 7pm. It will be hosted on the football field. See poster below.

Fields of Faith

Remington College at 441 Donelson Pike is offering a very nice scholarship for civil servants, first responders, law enforcement officers, active military, reservists or government agency employees. See poster below for more info.

Remmington College scholarships

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Donelson Neighborhood News - October 2017

I’ve received some inquiries regarding NES changing out meters. They are gradually switching from analog meters, which are no longer manufactured, to digital meters. NES has used digital Encoder Receiver Transmitter (ERT) meters (often called smart meters) since the late 1990's. They began installing AMI meters (often also called smart meters) in early 2012. They are currently at 75% deployment after a slow rollout that will hopefully be completed by 2020. AMI technology, supplied by Landis and Gyr, enables the meters to be read remotely, so meter readers do not have to enter a customer's property every month. This two-way communication with the electric grid improves service and power reliability for customers and helps NES better manage the energy load on our system. All meters used by NES meet applicable safety standards. They have been approved by the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates radio frequency emissions nationally, and follow American National Standards Institute (ANSI) radio frequency standards. The radio frequencies emitted by AMI meters are much lower than cell phones, cordless phones or baby monitors. In addition, the data received from AMI meters is no different than the information they currently have access to. The only change is that it is remotely reported to NES daily rather than once a month. Meter upgrades are happening over various parts of the service area and customers are notified by mail before the switch out takes place. NES offers a temporary deferral option to allow customers to opt-out of receiving an AMI meter for a monthly fee. Customers can call NES Customer Relations at 615-736-6900 to request an AMI deferral form. Alternatively, NES residential customers may hire an electrician to mount a new meter pedestal and base away from their home in close proximity to the street to install the AMI meter. For additional information, visit their webpage here.

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Transit Plan, Short Term Rentals, Major League Soccer, Recommend Infrastructure for Pennington Bend and the Full Story on the Dancing Lights of Christmas

Dear Friends –

Mayor Barry announced the comprehensive transit plan and proposal for what taxes would support it to Council Members on Tuesday, October 17th and was in conjunction with the Tennessee Public Transportation Association annual conference at Music City Center. The proposal will not include any property tax increase. The passage of the IMPROVE Act earlier this year by the State Legislature, in addition to funding road and bridge projects across the state, authorized local government to collect surcharges on various taxes and fees currently being assessed by the local government, if approved by voters by referendum. Metro will seek federal grants where available, while also proposing four surcharges to fund the project implementation and long-term maintenance of the system.

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Donelson School News - September 2017

Last newsletter I wrote about the situation of the delay at Pennington Elementary School’s expansion and renovation.  This past month I’ve also been made aware of the need for repair and upgrade of sidewalks and crossings around the school.  I’m engaged with Public Works and MNPS and they are looking into this.  I hope to be able to share progress in subsequent newsletters.

Speaking of sidewalks, the good news to share is that as you probably have seen if you traverse McGavock Pike, the sidewalks connecting McGavock High School onto McGavock Pike are being installed.  I’ve asked for that for a long time.  I also have a Capital Improvement Budget request for a sidewalk on McGavock Pike to at least for now connect McGavock High School and Two Rivers Middle.  Not time frame and I still need to get that funded, but it would be well used I believe.

TN Achieves is always looking for mentors to serve our local schools.  Visit their website to learn more.  This is one way you can serve our local community and help kids get a solid start in life.

TN Achieves Is Always Looking For Mentors

The Nashville Youth Basketball Association is recruiting for their fall league.  This is held at McGavock High School.  Visit their website for more info and see the flyer below.

Nashville Youth Baseball Association is recruiting for their fall league

Congrats to the McGavock High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter for being named a finalists for the 2017 Model of Excellence Award.  There is always something amazing and noteworthy to celebrate about McGavock High School

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Donelson Business News - September 2017

Be sure to check out the last edition of my newsletter on updates for almost twenty different developments happening in the 15th District.

Welcome Caliber Coffee!  This will be a new coffee shop and , which will be the third locally-owned coffee shop coming to Donelson, which will also have a full menu.  It’s an exciting time of new locally owned restaurants popping up and I’m so thankful for our neighbors who are taking the courageous steps of starting their own small business right here in the community.

SmART Supplies is coming to Music Valley!  This could be both part of the Business News or Non-Profit News section as SmART Supplies is a social enterprise of Progress, Inc., who do great work on behalf of those with disabilities and seniors who need care.  Their ribbon cutting will be Friday, September 22nd.  See flyer below for details.

Smart Supplies Is Coming to Music Valley

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