I was at the very first meeting of the NashvilleNext project and attended numerous of the various meetings that occurred over the last two years and I posted on their website and took the surveys. Now the plan is prepared and ready for public consumption. Somewhere along the way I lost my appetite.
I did my part; I brainstormed in small groups, I put little sticky dots on various options, and I answered surveys. I reached a point however in which I thought I was being led around by the nose. I reached a point to where I thought this is sham. The plan is already written and there is a boilerplate template somewhere where they will simply change the name of the city.
Surprise, surprise: Nashville wants less congested roads, affordable housing, walkable communities, good schools, low crime and economic opportunity. I could have told you that without spending millions of dollars and two years. I don't know how much NashvilleNext cost, but I am sure it was not cheap.
While NashvilleNext did engage a lot of citizens, that does not necessarily make it any more democratic than if the same input would have been gathered from a single pubic hearing. Council members are elected; no one elected the participants in the NashvilleNext process. The planning staff and metro council could have come up with NashvilleNext plan and then had a single public hearing and I think the result would be the same. Why should the opinions of those who showed up be given greater weight than those who didn't?
I am doing other things and I have not read the final report. I don't really know what is in the final product. I just know the generalities. However, to ensure, we are not getting a future we don't want a lot of people need to read it. They are calling this "the peoples plan." Anything that claims to represent "the people," somehow concerns me. Especially if "the people" who contributed were self selected rather than democratically elected.
I do hope to read NashvilleNext soon. However, I hope some other skeptics of grand plans read it and makes sure it does not lead to the adoption of policies that impact our freedom and property rights. It probably does not, but someone needs to be objectively reviewing the plan. Most plans gather dust on a shelf and never do more than inform the thinking of a few people. Also, plans can turn on a dime when circumstances change. Long range planning never envisioned Music Valley Dr. and Opry Mills and The Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, yet when an investor showed up with the money the plan changed. A developer with money can turn a plan on its head and on the other hand, all the good plans in the world can not make something happen if someone does not want to develop in accordance with the plan. Still, I am not opposed to planning. It is good to have some established guidelines even if they are subject to change. Some plans are really bad plans however and we should be pleased they never went into effect. Some of what causes our problems today are a result of plans that sounded good at the time.
Here is the link to the NashvilleNext website. I hope someone whose opinion I trust gets involved and can inform the rest of us what is in the final document.