Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Antioch mall won't get health clinic for low-income women, children

Residents fear it would hurt Hickory Hollow's future; council defers proposal By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • December 16, 2009 Metro will have to look for a new place for a health clinic after a plan to put it at Hickory Hollow Mall met resistance from Antioch residents. The Metro Health Department had reached a lease agreement with the mall's owners and planned to install a clinic for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. More than 40 percent of the city's WIC recipients live in the Antioch area. City officials thought the 2,809-square-foot clinic would be a good use of vacant space in a mall that has been struggling. But area residents expressed concerns at a community meeting attended by about 150 people Monday, and the Metro Council indefinitely deferred the proposal Tuesday. Councilman Sam Coleman, who represents part of Antioch, said many residents felt the clinic's presence would hurt a mall that they believe can be a strong retail center again. "They felt it would create a stigma that Antioch is gone and that the mall is less desirable than the mall it once was," Coleman said. "The sentiment of the community means a lot to us." He said the residents weren't opposed to having the clinic somewhere in Antioch. Living Word Community Church quickly offered to provide space, Coleman said, adding he expects the health department to explore multiple sites. "We're going to do the right thing for the Antioch community," he said. Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite, who represents another part of Antioch and southeast Nashville, agreed. "WIC is an invaluable resource, a very important program," she said. No potential replacement site has been selected, according to health department spokesman Brian Todd. In other business, the council rejected a resolution that would have asked the General Assembly to explore legislation repealing all state laws that allow for the creation of government "authorities." Councilman Eric Crafton introduced the resolution out of frustration with the Metro convention center authority, saying its existence allows the city to avoid a binding public referendum on the $585 million convention center project. But Councilwoman Megan Barry pointed out that the legislation would effectively be asking the state to take away some of the city's powers. Metro has long-standing authorities that oversee its airport and its professional sports venues. The measure failed by an 11-25 vote. Contact Michael Cass at 615-259-8838 or

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