During his walk with Salemtown residents last night, Mayor Bill Purcell iterated past news that the Metro Action Commission would be moving out of Salemtown. He also divulged that a new HeadStart Building is slated to be built behind the old Fehr School Building currently housing both. He told the group that while the next Mayor would determine the fate of the school building, he would like to see it sold to a private developer for condos.
The news that MAC would be moving to another building was good for all us insofar as we would no longer have to deal with the traffic jams and the resulting trash that MAC patrons tended to dump out of their cars and onto our streets and properties.
However, not all of us are happy with the idea of selling an old school building to private developers. I am starting to see splits emerging in our community over the future of this neighborhood. That split has to do with lifestyle vs. children : the empty nesters (whether they have had children or not) do not seem too jazzed by the idea of a neighborhood school; those of us with children cannot think of anything that would be more important for this neighborhood's development.
This is what I see. On the one side, are those who believe that Salemtown should be a lifestyle-hip neighborhood without respect to families. On the other side, are those of us who believe that families and hipness can fit together; in fact, diversity demands that they live together. And in many ways, they come together in places like East Nashville. So, why not North Nashville, too?
I don't have to strain to imagine the eyes of my empty nest neighbors either glazing over or rolling back in a "there-Mike-goes-again" expression of disinterest, because I witness it more and more whenever I try to talk to them about generational diversity. But I do want to make one thing perfectly clear to everyone else who says that they are concerned about the neighborhood: I will not be supporting any efforts for or against zoning changes or appeals if my neighbors do not support the idea the Fehr School should not be sold to private interests.
The logic is clear to me: converting that building to lofts is no different than the duplexification that we are fighting now, and I will lose all my interest in fighting these battles on behalf of quality long-term development if we lose the opportunity to locate a quality public school within walking distance of North End neighborhoods, and if Nashville reliquishes this community resource to money-hungry private interests. Selling Fehr is the same to me as chopping up, cul-de-sacking, and gating Morgan Park and then selling the subdivisions off to trendy little haute couture developers.
At some point in the future, the empty nester eyes will stop glazing and rolling and they will look my way for support on a zoning or overlay issue. They will do so not because I'm so special, but because they are going to need all the help that they can get to make these things happen. Whether they get my support depends on how committed they to fight for the pet project of families with children in Salemtown, families with children everywhere: good, accessible schools.
That's my gauntlet, Salemtown. And I'm throwing it down. I am fully prepared to lose and to leave for the sake of my children. It is the kind of sacrifice and loss that parents grasp.
Some causes are fought on principle; others are fought as favors are called in and as certain conditions are met. So, just so we are clear: I will be growing less and less willing to support the causes--no matter how noble--of empty nesters unless they are willing to support mine, too.
Let the eyes glaze and roll, but let the mind be clear: the vision for our neighborhood should be broad and inclusive, not myopic and unreciprocal. That can only happen when there is mutual back-scratching going on, and I have told you where I itch.