Monday, November 22, 2010

Antioch community leaders insist that the Mayor torpedoed their task force

Despite the positive marks Mayor Karl Dean receives from the media for involving community leaders in task forces to inform a few of his policy measures, Antioch leaders contend that the Mayor ignored their task force decisions about the placement of a health clinic.

The Mayor's Hickory Hollow lease bill for fairgrounds exiles, which is set for second reading (of three) at Metro Council on Pearl Harbor Day (Tuesday, December 7), includes the placement of the WIC clinic within the mall itself. I am not aware that placement of federal services for lower and working class families within shopping malls is a standard practice at other such retail complexes around the country. And given the possible exposure of healthy Hickory Hollow patrons to those infected with more virulent strains of influenza, I would question the wisdom of the clinic's placement in an enclosed facility with other stores inside.

But those seem to be issues that Antiochians have already discussed and resolved. These quandaries are no longer the issue. What is at issue is that the Mayor trumped the task force commissioned to come up with community-based solutions that could be supported by the Metro Council. In an e-mail, Concerned Citizens of Antioch express their frustrations:
On a daily basis we are finding out more and more information that we feel is very important for you to know as to why this [Hickory Hollow lease] Bill is an unfavorable deal for Antioch/Southeast Nashville ....
[Several involved Council Members] knew of the opposition to bring a low economic program, WIC in the mall that would further deploy our means of re-establishing our future to bring in higher end stores and more retail business to Antioch. All were in agreement that they would not support a WIC clinic in the mall, or in any retail center. Sam Coleman deferred the bill indefinitely .... A task force was selected of volunteers from the community to work with the Health Department to find a more suitable location for a WIC center.
The task force location selected was the Tusculum Hill Center on Nolensville Road .... The council accepted and passed the proposed new location in February and the negotiations were to be worked out by the Metro Director of Finance. The clinic never opened. Despite the opposition, the Mayor undermined the people of Antioch and the Director of the Health Department. Bill Paul waited for the right opportunity with the Mayor’s plan to move a Health/ WIC Clinic to the Hickory Hollow Mall retail center.
We are discovering more as time goes on about the surly manner the Mayor has toward regular Nashvillians whenever they question his more inflexible intentions. We should not be surprised that the Mayor has low regard for the Antiochians who express legitimate concerns about the lease.

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