Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh, SNAP! Did "Make the Fairgrounds Green" always really mean "Make the Fairgrounds Green Hills"?

While South Nashville Action People leader Keith Moorman is now styled as a community spokesman in the Mayor's project to sell off the Fairgrounds, his mission to move the State Fair under a banner of pro-developer greenness was viewed with skepticism in 2007 by some in his own neighborhood. Pith in the Wind blogger Steve Haruch provided an early illustration of Mr. Moorman's mission, which included a website now scrubbed off the net:
Rachel, of Women's Health News, responds cautiously in the comments:
The lack of identification makes me skeptical as well, especially given all of the "developers aren't so bad!" language. The only thing I can tell is that the site was registered by a Keith Moorman. I'm also interested in knowing whether they have been in contact with any existing neighborhood groups, like South Nashville Action People, who have been talking about and involved with the Fairgrounds issue for a while now (haven't received a response to my email inquiry). While I'm all for improvement because I live nearby, it's hard to know right now who these people are or what their real intentions are.
We asked around a bit, and no one seemed to have heard of the group or the website. Shannon Hornsby of Walk/Bike Nashville said she had never seen the site before. An email to the Middle Tennessee chapter of The U.S. Green Building Council was unanswered as of this writing.

We were, however, able to catch up with the site's creator. Pith in the Wind spoke to Mr. Moorman by phone yesterday. Mr. Moorman said that the website does not represent any organization, per se, but, rather, "It's just me .... The project's done. I just wanted to put my opinion out there—just to get my point across," he said. "If the city goes forward...if something comes of it, great." That shoulder-shrugging statement seems to sell short the mission expressed on the website:
The mission of makethefairgroundsgreen.org is two-fold:
One, we advocate for an alternative use of the current Fairgrounds site. Of course, right now no one knows what that will eventually be, and besides, whatever happens to a redeveloped Fairgrounds is for all of Nashville to decide. Our single, simple goal for the Fairgrounds is to see a green development that includes pedestrian-friendly spaces, plenty of trees, and no entertainment venues that create noise and draw excessive traffic.

Two, we advocate for relocating the Fairgrounds to an alternative site in Davidson County that can continue the great tradition of the Tennessee State Fair, but with updated facilities, better interstate access, and a more suitable topography for hosting the Fair.
And though the Keith Moorman PITW spoke to called makethefairgroundsgreen.org a "committee of one," he said that his wife, a Nashville attorney, would be filing the papers of incorporation necessary to gain non-profit status.

Moorman seemed eager to ward off the "tone of suspicion" he said he had picked up from some of the emails he had received. "The prevailing attitude seems to be, 'Who are these people? Is there something shady going on?' People think I'm a developer. I'm just a citizen." Later in the conversation, he added, "I'm not affiliated with any developer."
There are a couple of interesting background points that need to be underscored.

One is the early involvement in this project of Keith Moorman's wife, who is employed by a law firm with a primary lawyer for the Mayor's convention center project and close friend of Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling. When I raised this possible conflict of interest two weeks ago, the blogger from South Nashville Life accused me of reaching and she maintained that Mr. Moorman's wife has been "out of the picture" on the Fairgrounds issue. The Pith post hardly placed her out of the picture in 2007.

The second point is that Mr. Moorman's green vision for the fairgrounds no longer includes a primary emphasis on tree-filled, entertainment-free, auto-limited quiet spaces. On November 9 he told the Metro Council he wanted another Green Hills, 5 Points, or 12South at the redeveloped Fairgrounds. With the Mayor only expressing a willingness to devote around 5% of the land that he is not compelled to devote (because of flooding risk) to green space, it appears that Mr. Moorman's vow to making the Fairgrounds green is much weaker than it used to be. However, his talking point that developers are not so bad still looks strong.


  1. My buddy Keith Moorman, just a guy interested in improving his neighborhood. NOT. I find it intrigueing that everytime the Mayor sneezes, Mr. Moorman is there to wipe his nose. Of course if you consider the fact that Mr. Moorman's wife works for Bone McAllister Norton, a law firm that does a tremendous amount of legal and lobbying work for Metro Gov. i.e. the Mayor it all makes perfect sense. If you'd like to learn more about Ms. Moorman, here is the link. http://www.bonelaw.com/attorneys.php?att=19

  2. its all to shady, the mayor is getting his pockets lined from someone to get rid of the fairgrounds and using his government connections to do it, when will nashville ever know what the true intentions are for the property? if dean has anything to say about it he will have it sold to pay for his convention center or something else, what good is a convention center if you get rid of the entertainment in nashville? remeber stock car racing was part of nashville long before dean and has helped this city grow, from its cup races back in the early days of nascar to the local talent that has raced there and moved on to nascar, would there be businesses ownd by darrel waltrip or mike alexander, or others in nashville had they not cut thier teeth on sat. nights at that track wich allowed them to make a name for themselfs and now provide local jobs with the money made? also think of all the surronding counties and the people that travel from them and nearby states to race there or attend the flea market, thats all money lost for nashville restaraunts and gas stations, and other local businesses if you take the fairgrounds away, maybe dean should consider what hes doing before he just gets rid of something that nashville has loved for years. give someone a long lease on the property and it will thrive, when yours only giving a track promoter a one year lease you are setting him up for failure, look at what donohoe did with a long lease the place was standing room only every sat night. lets not forget our heritage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Mike, you should be aware that at the time I wrote that comment (2007), it was because the site was brand new, there were signs pointing to it popping up around the neighborhood, and there was not enough information for me to readily tell who was behind the site or what might be their agenda. I'm a librarian; looking for those sorts of details and being skeptical until I have them is part of my professional responsibility. I want to make clear, though, that I didn't/don't know Keith. It wasn't then and isn't now any kind of informed statement on the *actual* motivations of Mr. Moorman or how those motivations might be in play at present. It was simply an expression of caution pending further detail regarding what was a rather incomplete website and an unfamiliar group or initiative.

    On a somewhat related note, as a literal neighbor to the fairgrounds, I'd really appreciate it if you'd reconsider your blanket criticisms of the neighbors and people interested in seeing something happen there as "anti-preservationists." It's not accurate, and I don't think those sweeping generalizations get us anywhere useful.