Sunday, November 22, 2009

34 Council Members were unswayed by Hillwood association President's reasoned letter

In the last post, I referred to the Metro Council's failure last Tuesday to slow the process of acquiring and building a new West Precinct police station in the face of serious, unanswered questions coming from the West Nashville community. The Hillwood neighborhood association president, Kathy Baker, was kind enough to forward me a strong and sensible letter she sent to me before last Tuesday's fateful rubber stamp of a $14 million unplanned bid for a new station:

We have understood for many years that the West Precinct would be expanding and within the last 6 months or so that it would move to the Horizon Building just yards away from the current location. Then we hear in late August that there is a possibility that it would move to the Frensley property on Charlotte Pike and that Councilman Buddy Baker, a friend of Mr. Frensley’s, introduced this idea to Metro.

This is the point that we started asking questions about that property. Since Council voted to defer the appropriation of $4.2 million to purchase the Frensley property on Charlotte Pike for the West Precinct and DNA/Crime Lab there have been two community meetings and I have attended both. Below are some of the questions we asked about the Frensley property and the answers we received:

1. Q: Where are the plans for the Frensley property?
A: We don’t have any. Most of the work that was done on the Horizon site will be usable for the Frensley site.

2. Q: How much is it going to cost?
A: We don’t know but it will be under the $14 million budget

3. Q: How long is it going to take?
A. We don’t know, we have to design it first.

4. Q: What traffic studies have been done on this busy intersection?
A: No traffic studies have been done.

5: Q: What are you going to do to protect and improve Richland Creek?
A: Those things will be worked out as we move forward.

6. Q: What other sites could be used and what would they cost?
A: We have a list of alternative sites but none of them will work and we don’t know how much it’ll cost to acquire any of them.

7. Q: How much is the planning budget and how much have you spent?
A: We don’t know how much the planning budget is but we’ve spent around $50,000 planning the Horizon site.

The finance director produced a cost analysis between the Horizon Building and the Frensley location at the first community meeting. What we discovered, however, was that this was finished on November 2, over one month after the Frensley site was chosen. Additionally, when questions were asked about the report, the finance director and the architects could not explain some of the numbers and several mistakes were found. For instance they added road construction twice on the Horizon building overestimating the cost of that site by $500,000. And, they have geothermal costs shown on the Frensley site for the exact same amount as the Horizon site in the amount of $674,627 but admitted they had done no analysis to see if geothermal would work at the Frensley site and that’s almost 10% of the entire construction budget. Furthermore, even with the so-called cost analysis that site comes in at $1 million over budget!

No real evaluation has been done on this site and at the second community meeting the finance director was asked if he could please just go ahead and cost out this site, draw up the plans, etc. This is not going to delay the project since they are going to have to do the plans anyway before they start. This is not an unreasonable request. I ask you to make the same request and defer this purchase until that work has been done and presented to Council. THEN, you can make an informed decision about whether or not this property is going to work. Council budged $500,000 for the planning of this so why does our finance director refuse to plan?

Kathy Baker, President
Hillwood Neighborhood Association

1 comment:

  1. As a constituent in Buddy Baker's district, reading the intimations that perhaps Councilman Baker had a personal stake in this last-minute rubber-stamped change surprises me not one whit. Third verse, same as the first.