Rachel, of Women's Health News, responds cautiously in the comments:
The lack of identification makes me skeptical as well, especially given all of the "developers aren't so bad!" language. The only thing I can tell is that the site was registered by a Keith Moorman. I'm also interested in knowing whether they have been in contact with any existing neighborhood groups, like South Nashville Action People, who have been talking about and involved with the Fairgrounds issue for a while now (haven't received a response to my email inquiry). While I'm all for improvement because I live nearby, it's hard to know right now who these people are or what their real intentions are.We asked around a bit, and no one seemed to have heard of the group or the website. Shannon Hornsby of Walk/Bike Nashville said she had never seen the site before. An email to the Middle Tennessee chapter of The U.S. Green Building Council was unanswered as of this writing.
We were, however, able to catch up with the site's creator. Pith in the Wind spoke to Mr. Moorman by phone yesterday. Mr. Moorman said that the website does not represent any organization, per se, but, rather, "It's just me .... The project's done. I just wanted to put my opinion out there—just to get my point across," he said. "If the city goes forward...if something comes of it, great." That shoulder-shrugging statement seems to sell short the mission expressed on the website:
The mission of makethefairgroundsgreen.org is two-fold:
There are a couple of interesting background points that need to be underscored.One, we advocate for an alternative use of the current Fairgrounds site. Of course, right now no one knows what that will eventually be, and besides, whatever happens to a redeveloped Fairgrounds is for all of Nashville to decide. Our single, simple goal for the Fairgrounds is to see a green development that includes pedestrian-friendly spaces, plenty of trees, and no entertainment venues that create noise and draw excessive traffic.And though the Keith Moorman PITW spoke to called makethefairgroundsgreen.org a "committee of one," he said that his wife, a Nashville attorney, would be filing the papers of incorporation necessary to gain non-profit status.
Two, we advocate for relocating the Fairgrounds to an alternative site in Davidson County that can continue the great tradition of the Tennessee State Fair, but with updated facilities, better interstate access, and a more suitable topography for hosting the Fair.
Moorman seemed eager to ward off the "tone of suspicion" he said he had picked up from some of the emails he had received. "The prevailing attitude seems to be, 'Who are these people? Is there something shady going on?' People think I'm a developer. I'm just a citizen." Later in the conversation, he added, "I'm not affiliated with any developer."
One is the early involvement in this project of Keith Moorman's wife, who is employed by a law firm with a primary lawyer for the Mayor's convention center project and close friend of Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling. When I raised this possible conflict of interest two weeks ago, the blogger from South Nashville Life accused me of reaching and she maintained that Mr. Moorman's wife has been "out of the picture" on the Fairgrounds issue. The Pith post hardly placed her out of the picture in 2007.
The second point is that Mr. Moorman's green vision for the fairgrounds no longer includes a primary emphasis on tree-filled, entertainment-free, auto-limited quiet spaces. On November 9 he told the Metro Council he wanted another Green Hills, 5 Points, or 12South at the redeveloped Fairgrounds. With the Mayor only expressing a willingness to devote around 5% of the land that he is not compelled to devote (because of flooding risk) to green space, it appears that Mr. Moorman's vow to making the Fairgrounds green is much weaker than it used to be. However, his talking point that developers are not so bad still looks strong.