Thursday, April 30, 2015
Community Meeting on Proposed Jail Consolidation Relocation to Southeast Nashville Harding Place Donelson Pike Area
COMMUNITY MEETING ON PROPOSED JAIL CONSOLIDATION/RELOCATION TO SOUTHEAST NASHVILLE HARDING PLACE/DONELSON PIKE AREA
When: Thursday, May 7, 2015
Time: 6:00 pm
Where: South Police Precinct, 5101 Harding Place
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Jail plan 'came as shock' to southeast Nashville council members
North Nashville pastors and Metro Council members cheered as they watched Mayor Karl Dean announce plans to move operations out of the downtown Criminal Justice Center last week.
But not a single council representative from southeast Davidson County was present at the news conference.
That's because they apparently knew nothing about the details — even though the proposal calls for moving the downtown jail and other Davidson County Sheriff's Office operations to a new expanded complex in their part of town on Harding Place.
Leaders from historically African-American North Nashville are thrilled about Jefferson Street landing a new Metro Nashville Police headquarters as part of Dean's proposal. Several southeast council members, on the other hand, are wary of new bail bonds stores they say would follow the move of the downtown jail to southeast Nashville.
Most of all, though, they feel left out of talks.
"We were not privy to any information about this," said District 32 Councilwoman Jacobia Dowell. "It came as a shock.
"Historically, this mayor has always been very good about sharing information with us ahead of time and involving us. I don't know what happened here. I was disappointed."
With the 33-year-old Criminal Justice Center and other sheriff's office facilities facing $127.5 million in total renovations, Dean has proposed consolidating the downtown 800-inmate detention center and all other major sheriff's office facilities at property on Harding Place. The police headquarters would move to the corner of Jefferson and 14th Avenue North.
The Metro-owned site on Harding pegged for the new complex already features three detentions centers as well as a South Police Precinct. The South Precinct would move elsewhere in the county's southeast if Dean's proposal gets approval by the Metro Council this spring. The overall price tag for Dean's plan is $149 million.
"The biggest concern I think we have is No. 1, we have not had the opportunity to be included in the discussion about alternative sites," District 29 Councilwoman Karen Johnson said.
Despite the existing jail presence in the area, Johnson pointed to unwanted "ancillary things" such as bail bonds companies she says would follow the downtown jail, which holds inmates who are awaiting trial as opposed to those already convicted.
"You're consolidating everything into a location that has close residential properties nearby," Johnson said. "This type of project can transition our area in a less desirable direction. Our constituents have been very vocal in sharing that this type of consolidation and move can have a major impact on southeast Nashville and the Antioch area. Those concerns need to be discussed."
The property is technically in the bordering district of District 13 Councilman Josh Stites. He said he wasn't notified about details on what would be announced either, though he declined to comment to The Tennessean in lieu of a future meeting he's set with Sheriff Daron Hall.
Hall will host a May 7 community meeting at the South Precinct to discuss the project. He rejected concerns pushed by Johnson and Dowell, noting that two-thirds of his office's operations — including 2,800 beds — already operate at the Harding Place site and have been there for 25 years.
He said no residential neighborhoods would be affected in an area that is largely industrial. He added that law offices would be just as likely to move to southeast Nashville as bail bonds companies.
"It's just not something new," Hall said of adding a jail. "That's the thing we've got to make sure people realize. We've lived there, been there and operated there. It's not accurate to portray it as there would be big changes coming. We'd operate basically just the way we do now, with just more people."
Hall on Friday said he's talked to all southeast Davidson County council members except for Johnson, whom he said he's attempted to reach. He said he and Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson fielded questions at the council the afternoon of Tuesday's announcement, but said some members now voicing concerns weren't there.
"I think there are a lot of things in play," Hall said. "A lot of them are running for re-election and are concerned about the politics of it. But as I've said, I have constituents, too, and I want to make sure that we're doing the right thing for Nashville. I believe this is the right thing to do."
According to the mayor's office, all council members received an advisory last week that provided notice of a major public safety announcement and a subsequent council briefing. However, that notice did not have specifics.
Other southeast council members include Robert Duvall, Duane Dominy, Fabian Bedne, Jason Potts and Davette Blalock.
Dowell indicated that some council members would be requesting a meeting with the mayor on the subject. But it appears Hall will serve as the primary point person instead.
"I've asked Sheriff Hall to talk to the southeast council members about their concerns, and he's doing that," Dean said in a statement.
The council will vote on the Criminal Justice Center relocation this spring as part of the mayor's capital budget plan. For now, it appears one part of town will need convincing.
"There's a perception of putting the jail in southeast Nashville and a police headquarters in North Nashville," Dominy said. "One is perceived good. The other is perceived bad."
Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @joeygarrison.