Monday, June 08, 2009

Neighborhood's Advisory Committee Chair Demands More Accountability from MDHA

Now that neighborhood tensions with Metro Action died down and construction on the Salemtown streetscape started again this morning, leaders on the citizen advisory committee have moved to addressing grievances with the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency over delays in the project and a perceived lack of accountability. The Chairperson of the Salemtown CAC sent the following letter to MDHA's community planner this morning in advance of tomorrow's CAC meeting:
I am writing to give you advance notice of some of the concerns that a number of us who have been a part of the CAC have had about the management and ultimate disposition of our grant so that you can feel prepared to address them at our meeting on this coming Tuesday.

Many of us were greatly disturbed by the significant reductions in our Salemtown Streetscape Project. We would like to address what appear to have been repeated delays and errors that have occurred during the process of bringing this project into fruition.

The project timeline was not enforced; it seems that consultant billings were not closely monitored, resulting in an over-billing of the project. Despite our written protest, consultants were paid for time spent to correct errors they themselves made as a result of their own incompetence or negligence. All of these miscalculations and more have led to a significant loss to the Salemtown Community in the form of a greatly depleted block grant, including but not limited to the loss of the independent tree grant contract for which the MDHA award was to provide matching funds. There are those of us who feel that this loss in particular has significantly diminished the appeal of the traffic calming bulbs, which, without trees and adequate landscaping, will be less attractive and may be more inclined to become garbage and weed collectors. The bulbs have already proven to be less visible and prone to rollovers without taller plantings to call attention to them.

MDHA has failed to consult with the CAC about the recently eliminated items and budgetary concerns. You did an excellent job calling and communicating with me as the chair of the CAC throughout the first two years of our meeting. No decisions were initially made without consulting with and encouraging the full participation of the CAC team. However, throughout this last year, MDHA has had some significant communication deficits for a project of this nature. This was unacceptable and seemed to suggest a basic disregard for the input of the CAC.

We request that a detailed budget be made available for our review at the meeting on Tuesday. While it is understood that it is MDHA’s role to act as the liaison and administrator of the federal block grant, we would like to see that our interests have been protected and regarded as recipients of that grant.

The loss of so many of the items planned and approved with our grant money has been a concern of the neighborhood at large. The Salemtown Neighborhood Association (SNNA) has expressed that they wish to join with the CAC members to voice concern about the loss to our neighborhood, and we respectfully request that there be some specific accountability for the losses to our neighborhood. Thank you in advance for assembling this meeting next week so that we can have these issues addressed.
I e-mailed the MDHA community planner weeks ago asking for a copy of the budget including income and expenses. If we don't get it tomorrow, then I'm going to look into making an appeal under Tennessee's freedom of information law.


  1. Can someone provide a list of items that were eliminated as a result of this information?

  2. I'll post the items this evening.