Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mayor looks ahead with optimism

Tennessean Mayor Karl Dean, speaking at a Realtors gathering last week, evaluated the current state of affairs in Nashville and offered insight into the future. He spoke on education, recycling, the fairgrounds, the Sounds, the department of water and sewer, the convention center, property taxes, mass transit and corporate relocation. Other than that, he didn't have much to say. In spite of the bad news nationally, Nashville is holding its own, and it will be a city on the move in 2009. Here's what was on the mayor's mind: >> The Sounds are under new ownership, and the mayor says the owners are committed to improving the experience for the fans. For any that have attended a Sounds game lately, anything less painful than a root canal would be an improvement, but Dean told the group that the owner would be investing well over a million dollars in improvements to the current stadium while working to rebuild trust with Nashville's baseball fans before searching for a location to build a new facility. >> Education is an enormous issue for Realtors selling homes in Davidson County. and there is good news on that front. Dean explained in some detail the New Teacher Project along with the Teach for America program. He also spoke on the subject of charter schools and the need for more. And he talked about the work his office is doing to increase after-school programs for middle school students. This was especially welcome news as many considering relocating to Nashville consider the public education system a high priority. >> The mayor said there would be a slight increase in the water and sewer bills in the near future in order to accommodate for replacement of deteriorated pipes and allow for growth. It has been years since there has been an increase, and while this one may seem ill-timed, it is necessary in order to maintain our city's infrastructure, protect the environment and ensure we continue to have plenty of safe, clean drinking water. >> As for the fairgrounds, there are a number of positive enterprises that bring revenues to Nashville's coffers flourishing there, such as Christmas Village and the flea market; however, the neighbors are concerned about the noise generated from the racing activities. While the fair has not been profitable as of late, according to Chrysty Fortner, the director of marketing of the state fair, the "entire experience for the state fair is being reinvented.'' >> For the first time in 14 years, reappraisal will occur during a down market, and the mayor feels that there may be more property owners contesting their appraisals than in prior years. >> While there are several relocations headed to the area and recruitment of new business remains a priority, Paul Ney, the director of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Community Development, also in attendance, noted that growing existing companies in Nashville is less costly and more productive than bidding for some of the larger, more celebrated corporate relocations. He added that while some companies move into adjacent counties, Nashville continues to receive more than its share of corporate relocations. >> As for recycling, plans are underway to expand the programs into the outlying areas of Davidson County and to incorporate more flexibility in the program. In another environmentally friendly development, the Regional Transit Authority is active in establishing mass transit between Davidson and surrounding counties, and the mayors from those counties are all aboard for the introduction of the necessary state legislation for this region to move forward with a mass transit system. >> Plans for a new convention center downtown have landed the woman's Final Four from the NCAA. The center has 85,000 rooms booked and the ground is yet to be broken. It is proving to be a viable enterprise as the city competes for tourists and their cash.

No comments: