Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inconvenient questions about a new ballpark

Last month while blogging on TSU homecoming and Jefferson Street shootings, I left out an intriguing comment from a citizen concerned about increased crime when outsiders cruise and hang out in the North End. A police officer present was trying to assuage concerns that spikes in crime during TSU homecoming were more chronic than others by saying that even Titans' games regularly result in higher incidence of crime. There is no way around crime spiking with increases in numbers of people attending events. Police at the very least prepare to deal with more car break-ins during Titans games.

At that point the citizen I mentioned brought up the proposed Sulphur Dell ballpark. Despite the spin of the most vocal local proponents that the community unquestioningly supports a new ballpark here, she expressed concern that building a ballpark would actually attract some of the same problems that TSU homecoming and Titans games did. It was an honest concern about Sulphur Dell that exists, unprompted, unorchestrated, unscripted. However, it was also a question that the "friends" and "champions" of a new Sulphur Dell ballpark are ignoring in the name of raising property values and bringing any growth, even if the growth might not be balanced or smart or secure.

For any action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Building a new ballpark at Sulphur Dell creates a contrasting set of problems that should be addressed in the open and without the influence of lobbyists. If those problems can be mitigated by effective community-based planning, the inconvenient questions are less likely to come up in settings that have nothing to do with ballparks.

UPDATE: Another point for community discussion that needs to be considered is the relative cost of Sulphur Dell land, whose 14 acres would cost $14 million according to the site study. In contrast the East Bank's assessed value and site costs for 80 acres are $8.6 million. It will be hard to convince taxpayers that they're getting the better deal at Sulphur Dell, but the only spin I've heard from proponents is how much it will help Hope Gardens, Germantown and the Jeff St business corridor. I can see why Friends of Sulphur Dell may be cautious about opening this up to a broader community discussion. They just keep getting strikes called against them.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of land costs for the ballfield... It's difficult to accept that the real costs of development of the PSC (and adjacent) East Bank sites are represented accurately in the Populus study. Relocation of PSC, remediation of the environmental issues are unaccounted for in the stated "assessed value" cost. The Populus study seems to reach the same conclusions as in the mind of the administration who funded it.