Thursday, October 15, 2009

May Family Keeps Word to Give TSU Land Donation; TSU Not Committing to Build Ag Research Center without May Town

According to the Tennessean, Tennessee State University now owns the $400,000 land donation because Jack May kept his promise to make it with or without the May Town Center development. Assuming he does not come back with a scaled-back, micro-Downtown proposal to sprawl across the Bend we assume that the May family lives up to its word. No kudos for doing the right thing. Just acknowledgement.

However, TSU is non-committal on the question of building an agricultural research center without the May Town development, which gives me pause to reiterate that we should not assume that TSU will make good on promises without some oversight either. Regardless of what happens to Jack May's dreams of urbanizing Scottsboro/Bells Bend, TSU can take its donation in many different directions including financial ones that have little if anything to do with education or conservation or common good with the local community.

While I am on the subject of the May Town proposal and TSU, I should update the story of the Tennessee Tribune article published on its front page last week and entitled, "Black Community Wants May Town Center Built NOW!" I was told recently that the front pager was actually an advertisement that was paid for by Tony Giarratana. Forty-eight hours ago I e-mailed the Tribune news editor asking for confirmation or denial of that news. I have yet to hear back from anyone at Perhaps I should have tried their ad sales e-mail instead. If any Enclave reader can give me any information that would corroborate or disqualify that allegation, please e-mail me and I'll update (or you can always comment below).

UPDATE: A commenter says that I have misunderstood the donation below. The $400,000 donation is for a teaching position. Land has yet to be donated. Promise yet to be kept.

While TSU may claim that it requires May Town Center to rezone, there is nothing to stop the university from applying to rezone on its own.


  1. Your story's little bit off the mark. The Mays did make a $400k donation to fund a teaching position. They did not convey any land and TSU has said they cannot proceed with the proposed campus without rezoning.

  2. Thanks, Mike.

    A couple of other points: TSU owns two farms already. A research park (good idea!) doesn't necessarily have to be built on inaccessible farmland. $400,000: while I commend the Mays for coming through with this, this is less than 2% of their Maytown budget so far, and as an endowment will fund only about 1/4 of a prof--unless they can find one really, really cheap somewhere.

  3. I bet they could get a Jack May Chair of Commercial Paving and Business Outreach really cheap.