Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What happened at the Council Meeting of 10-21-14: The Gulch-Pedestrian-Bridge-is-approved meeting.

To find a copy of the staff analysis, council agenda and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

This council meeting is conducted by Lonnell Matthews, Jr., President pro tem of the Council whose duty it is to conduct the meeting in the absence of the Vice Mayor.

There are 14 appointments of boards and commissions rapidly confirmed as always is the case. The Council nominates two people for election to the Health and Education Facilities Board which will occur at the November 4th meeting.  I am not that knowledgeable about what this board does and do not know the nominees.

All resolutions on the Consent Agenda pass and one resolution is withdrawn at the request of the administration. Included in those that pass are these resolutions of interest:

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1253 which is part of the deal to build a new $35.5 million parking garage downtown. This resolution ups the price of the project to $42 million while reducing the number of parking spaces from 1183 to 1000. 
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1254 which appropriates $250,000 through a grant contract with Oasis Center to provide support for the Mayor’s Scholars Academy.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1265 which approves an agreement between the state department of transportation (TDOT) and the Metro Arts Commission for the installation of the sculpture called ''Stixs" at the new Korean Veterans roundabout. 
All bills on first reading pass without discussion as is customary. All Bills on Second Reading pass without discussion and none of them are of much interest.

Bills on Third Reading: 
BILL NO. BL2014-670 is the Gulch pedestrian bridge bill which authorizes the acquisition of easements and right of ways to build the bridge.  The bridge is already in the capital improvement budget and funding is authorized, so if the Council had wanted to delay or kill the $18 million bridge this was the opportunity to do it.  Back a few months ago, the Council was presented with this proposal and they defeated it. At that time, it was to be funded by bonds paid for out of general revenues, and the Mayor came back with this revised proposal to fund it by Tax Increment Financing. To see my commentary on why I think the financing method is nothing more than a shell game and why I opposed moving forward with this project at this time, see this. Last Council meeting, the Council passed this on a voice vote.  I am pleased to see there was a recorded vote on this.

The council votes 30-7 to approve this bill without discussion. Those voting "no" are council members Charlie Tygard, Steve Glover, Emily Evans, Larry Hagar, Bruce Stanley, Robert Duvall. and Carter Todd.

BILL NO. BL2014-838 is the bill that would remove historical overlay protection for part of lower Broadway.  This is a complex issue and the Council engages in some adept and rare parliamentary procedures. To understand the issue and the maneuvers on the bill you must watch the video carefully. To see the discussion see time stamp 27:02- 50:30. Below is how the Tennessean described this issue:
In other business Tuesday, historic preservationists scored a victory, with the council voting down a plan that could have led to a makeover of the historic Trail West store building on Lower Broadway.
At issue is a block of property at Broadway and Third Avenue South still unprotected by the rest of the area’s historic overlay, as a way to accommodate a Westin Hotel proposed in 2007 but never built.
Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, who represents downtown, had proposed an ordinance to extend the historic overlay to include this block, but at the last minute had sought to exclude the Trail West property at 217-219 Broadway. There, broker Marshall Karr, who recently purchased the property, is eyeing a three-story, open-air structure anchored by a steakhouse.
Gilmore’s amendment to exclude the Trail West building from the overlay, however, failed by a 14-20 vote. Later, Gilmore’s motion to withdraw the legislation, which could have enabled the demolition of the building, failed as well by a 12-21 vote.
“Historic preservation is what makes downtown Nashville great,” said Councilwoman Emily Evans, who sought to protect the Trail West building. “It is the golden goose. Let’s not kill it.”
There are two memorializing resolutions on the agenda.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1252  request President Obama and Congress "to select public infrastructure improvements as the priority activity of the United States to upgrade the current substandard infrastructure of the nation, strengthen the national economy, and support healthy and vibrant communities in the United States."  It is deferred again having also been deferred last meeting. I do not think the Council should be weighing in on national policy issues such as this and I hope the sponsor will withdraw this resolution or it is voted down when it comes back up.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1268  sponsored by Charlie Tygard is a resolution requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to allow the Metropolitan Council to make Metropolitan Government General Sessions Court judicial elections nonpartisan. The resolution had failed in the committee to which it was assigned and fails in the Council 10-13-7. Most of the "good" council members voted for it. (To see the discussion see 1:03:01- 1:07:37.)
To see the Tennessean's report on the Council meeting, follow this link: Gulch-SoBro pedestrian bridge cleared for construction.

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