Wednesday, October 5, 2016

In Council action 10-4-16: Gulch pedestrian bride advances, Google wins another round.

As soon as the video of last night's council meeting is availble I will post it, highlight the interesting parts and provide some commentary. Please check back.

The bill which will sell the old Clements Land Port and purchased a parcel of land south of Cummings Station to accommodate the planned pedestrian bridge across the railroad gulch passed second reading on a voice vote.  The funding and approval of the project had occurred during the Dean administration. The only thing before the Council was the land acquisition for the east bank of the gulch.

When presented with the land acquisition bill necessary to advance the project in October 2014 the council balked and stopped the project.  Dean then changed the method of funding to Tax Increment Financing and the Council took some action to advance the project but then delayed it.  Tax Increment Financing takes money from that area and pays for the project.  The logic of TIF is that by allowing infrastructure and development to be funded by new revenues from the area, a blighted area is revived  and becomes tax producing. That logic may be valid in the early stages of revitalizing an area but applied to this pedestrian bridge it is a shell game.  By financing the project by TIF that simply delays the day that downtown development will start putting money into the city coffers.  In this case, TIF funding for this project is the equivalent of taking money out of your right pocket rather than your left pocket. In 2014, changing the funding from General Bond obligations to TIF placated some members of the council.  The argument in 2014 is much the same as the argument now, that $18 million would build a lot of sidewalks in neighborhoods and we are spending money downtown at the expense of communities.

Since the bill passed on a voice vote with no recorded opposition, it should not face any problem on third reading. Here is the Tennessean report: Gulch-SoBro pedestrian bridge land deal advances in Metro Council.

The bill that would have required Google to pay the legal fees to defend One-touch-make-ready was defeated.  To read the Tennessean's report on this, see Google Fiber wins one more fight in Nashville's council

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