No one was happier Thursday than At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard, who at one point before the meeting began, could be seen standing on a chair proclaiming strong support for the project and directing a crowd to pick up red Friends of Sulphur Dell shirts.
"In 2008, we formed Friends of Sulphur Dell right here at Farmers Market, with Freddie [O'Connell, president of the Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association, who was standing nearby] and all the neighborhood association and groups,” Maynard said, following the meeting. “And we didn't know if it was going to happen, but we fought hard for Sulphur Dell because this is the birthplace of baseball [in Nashville]. This is where it should be, the neighborhood ballpark. I'm so excited that it's going to happen. I can't tell you how excited I am. I mean, it's going to happen."
If Friends of Sulphur Dell started in 2008, it is news to me and I have been blogging on North End news since 2005. The group was not announced in Salemtown until 2010, and it was my distinct impression that it was being founded at that time. 2010 was definitely the year that Salemtown Neighbors was invited to participate. The website for Friends of Sulphur Dell was not started until 2011.
On April 13, 2010, a few days before this group that would become Friends of Sulphur Dell convened at Farmers' Market, Freddie sent a message to the Salemtown Neighbors listserv about a Tennessean reporter incorrectly saying that everyone in our community supported a new ballpark at the early stage:
it seems like the narrative is already that the North End supports Sulphur Dell. He called me yesterday, and I explained that we were not going to take a position till after Saturday's meeting, if at all, and I'm glad he noted that in the story.
After I made it clear in the Sulphur Dell meeting that we were on the fence and that we had particular questions about traffic and parking, and when I asked that we set up community meetings, I stopped being included in the group's proceedings (assuming they had many more after that; the website went quiet in 2011 and did not become active again until August 2013, when news media reported that the Mayor wanted Sulphur Dell).
Where Jerry Maynard now gets the idea (or the gall) to misrepresent Salemtown's support, ambivalence or opposition to a new ballpark is beyond me.
His rewrite of our history is supported by nothing I can find in my records. I received an email saying that Karl Dean told a Hope Gardens resident in 2010 that Sulphur Dell was his preferred location. I was also told by an insider whom I trust that, while the news media was reporting Sulphur Dell as only one option among others the Mayor was considering, the push for finding grassroots support for Sulphur Dell that year came top-down from the Mayor's Office. Around that same time Freddie made it clear to me that he shared concerns the association had about negative quality of life impacts of a new ballpark on Salemtown. He also told me that if Salemtown Neighbors chose to oppose Friends of Sulphur Dell, then it would be a "stumbling block to the unified approach" the boosters were trying to project.
Obviously the council member at-large has taken that disingenuous approach to heart. I hope Freddie took the time yesterday to pull Reverend Jerry Maynard to the curb and to correct his fast-and-loose abuse of the truth in his zeal for a ballpark concept that may or may not be worthy. The record should be set straight.