Friday, September 28, 2012

People must rally to save the fairgounds. That battle is not over!


Fairgrounds Heritage Preservation Group

Helping Save
Tennessee State Fair

Hello Rod Williams, Friend of the Fairgrounds!

We (Still) Need Your Support For The Fairgrounds!
Once again dear friends, the Fairgrounds needs your help and support.

As part of Metro's waste of public money, spending over $135,000 on a master plan study, the Planning Department sent the following notice:
State Fairgrounds neighbors, stakeholders, and the general public can learn about possible uses for the Fairgrounds and share their thoughts and opinions at an open house from 5-8 pm Monday, October 1, at the Fifty Forward Knowles Center, just outside the Fairgrounds gate at the corner of Wedgwood and Rains. This will be a "drop-in" session; visitors can come and go at any time with no need to stay for the entire event.
Phase 2 of the Fairgrounds Master Plan Study examines the marketability, economic impact, and physical characteristics of potential mixed-use development on the Tennessee State Fairgrounds site; the Master Plan webpage has more information about the process.

Firstly, we can't say often enough that this whole process is pretty much unlawful from the git-go. The Metro Charter gives "complete charge and control" of the Fairgrounds to the Fair Board of Commissioners, which means that neither the Planning Board nor the Metro Council itself has the authority to implement a master plan for the Fairgrounds. However, that is not the battle we're fighting at the moment, we just would like to keep reminding people about that.

But please note that this part of the study is for the purpose of developing a plan for mixed-use development of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. However, many people do not realize that "mixed-use" is a specific term used by real estate developers and zoning boards to designate buildings that are part commercial and part residential.

The city of Lenexa, Kansas recently approved an area for mixed-use development and here is a picture of what it will look like: It has businesses located on the ground floors of the buildings and condos on the upper floors.

This is also the type of development that has recently been approved for 12th Street South.

And this type of development is fine if you're starting with an empty lot, or bringing residential usage to a currently commercial area.
But this obviously is not something that can co-exist with the current purposes of the Fairgrounds, and would result in the destruction of the property.

We also need to keep in mind that "highest and best use" is a real estate development term that usually is not applied to public property because it means "how can we squeeze the last penny out of this property?" If this standard were applied to all public property, there would be none remaining. What would be the "highest and best use" of Percy Warner Park or Centennial Park?

So once again, we must tell these plan contractors, the Planning Department, the Fair Board, the Metro Council, the Mayor, and anyone else, that the people have already decided that the purpose of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds is the same purpose it has had for over 100 years-- it's a fairgrounds!
While there is certainly both a need and room for new and different events at the Fairgrounds, they should be events that support it's current purpose as the "Common Man's Convention Center." We do not need condos, we do not need a Starbucks, and we certainly do not need any "fern bars" like they have over in the gulch.

So once again, please get your neighbors, co-workers, church members, friends, enemies, and your mother-in-law to come to the meeting, preferably wearing a red shirt, and once again overwhelm them with numbers of people united in the purpose of preserving our Fairgrounds-- just like we overwhelmed city council when this issue came before them.

The last meeting had "ok" attendance, but it was not overwhelming. This time let's pack the house. Show them that same unity of purpose that passed the Fairgrounds Charter amendment. Make them realize that we will not go away, and we will not be worn down by their antics. 

We also have one other item that needs your effort and support.

It seems that Buck Dozier has it in his head to change the name of the Fairgrounds to the "Nashville Expo Center." He has already begin to use that on letter heads and uses the expo center web site now instead of the Tennessee State Fair domain, which belongs to the Fair Board. While its not noted on the agenda, it was announced in the newspaper that Buck will request the Fair Board to make this "official" at the meeting on Tuesday, October 2. 

Well, we pretty much feel that Buck has things exactly backwards. It's "The Tennessee State Fairgrounds, home of the Fairgrounds Expo Center." Just like the Fairgrounds is home to the Fairgrounds Flea Market and the Fairgrounds Speedway.

We're not sure why he thinks that attempting to re-brand this 100-year old historic facility is a good idea. What would any other company give for an established 100-year old brand name? Why slight the many citizens of Davidson County outside of Nashville who also are stake holders in the Fairgrounds?
So please let them know that the people also want the Fairgrounds to continue to be called the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, just like it has for the past 100+ years! It's a well-established name with a good and widespread reputation. Let's keep it that way!

You can contact Fair Board Chairman Ned Horton at and you can contact the other commissioners at
Write them and let them know how you feel about it!

Together, we CAN make a difference.

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