While the push to redevelop the North End is moving at lightning speed with money pouring into the area to fund new places to live, play, and work, any inertia to make the area a place for families is lagging behind. Salemtown is a neighborhood of families that will not stay that way very long unless some measures are taken to keep it from becoming a place super-saturated with amenities only for singles and young families with no children.
One of the things that should happen to attract families with children to locate and to stay here is to replace a quality neighborhood public school here. However, there are no feeder schools proximate to the North End. Fehr School sits right in the middle of Salemtown. Decades ago it provided an education for neighborhood children, but it is used to provide other Metro Services now, having little to do with the neighborhood itself.
The drive from the intersection where the Fehr School Building sits to Salemtown's feeder elementary school is almost 10 miles. Brookmeade Elementary sits near West Meade in West Nashville. It is time to have a feeder elementary school either in the neighborhood or close to the North End. Renovating the Fehr School Building would mean that new land would not have to be bought and a new building built from the ground up.
But for the Fehr Building to be freed up to become a school once more, Metro Social Services and Headstart need to be located elsewhere. Some of that was supposed to happen in 2006; in 2005, the Director of Metro Social Services told me that Social Services (which is where lower income folk can obtain government assistance to pay bills) was moving to South Downtown's Howard School Building. That did not happen.
But if Salemtown is going to remain a diverse place with families as well as singles relocating here, it is going to need to provide more educational opportunities for children than it currently does. The Neighborhood Plan calls for the Fehr School Building to revert back to a school and for some of the surrounding paved parking to become public green space. Perhaps the future District 19 council member can work to make sure that both of those goals are realized in the next half-decade.
[Black & white photo credit: Metro Archives]