After weeks of intensified scrutiny over Mayor Karl Dean’s proposal to transform the Metro-owned Tennessee State Fairgrounds, a handful of Metro Council members have filed legislation that will effectively bail him out, keeping the expo center at the site and all but guaranteeing that next year’s state fair will be in Davidson County.The Save the Fairground preservationists, who were preparing to release the results of a survey tomorrow of flea market vendors regarding the Mayor's Hickory Hollow proposal, are not still not impressed:
According to multiple sources, the Dean administration fully supports the plan.
The bill, filed Wednesday evening, would require the five-member Metro Board of Fair Commissioners to negotiate with the Tennessee State Fair Association to keep the 2011 state fair at the Nashville site. The fair association — a nonprofit group of statewide interests formed in response to Dean’s plans — has had difficulty finding a comparable site for a fair in the county ....
The bill would also keep the expo center at the current fairgrounds location, and begin the demolition process of the racetrack on the property to make way for a 40-acre park along Browns Creek.
Mayor Karl Dean has agreed to keep the Fairgrounds open for one more year. With 9 months before his re-election, this is nothing more than “election year” politics. It is a thinly veiled attempt to kick the can down the road until after the upcoming Metro elections.I heard earlier today that the Fairgrounds supporters were going to move this to the state level and to extend the effort to rural leadership around the rally cry that Nashville's Mayor was trying to destroy the Tennessee State Fair. There was also a good deal of anger expressed at the November 16 council meeting with constituents telling council members to their faces that they were going to lose votes next year because of their support of Mayor Dean.
Just days ago, Mayor Karl Dean threatened to raise property taxes if he did not get his way on the Fairgrounds redevelopment bills. We believe this is nothing more than a scare tactic. The Fairgrounds is, and can be, a profitable venture for the city.
Save My Fairgrounds seeks an indefinite continuation of the State Fair, Flea Market and Expo events, and racing. The State Fair issue needs to be decided now, not next year. It is evident the public pressure has been felt by Dean and the Council members, and they clearly do not have the votes to kill the Fairgrounds.
Election-year jitters may indeed be setting in across the Metro Council, but the larger goal here is to make sure that the initiative to privatize the public Fairgrounds does not come up again after next year's election is safely over for Mayor and council members. The lack of governance and quality leadership on the Dean Team during this episode has been breathtaking. They needed to back off.