The only Nashville mayoral candidate who gets to vote on a trio of controversial projects pushed by Mayor Karl Dean says she supports a downtown flood wall and protection system but opposes relocating the city's downtown jail to Southeast Nashville.
Metro Councilwoman Megan Barry revealed those positions at a Monday candidate forum before formally outlining her stances Wednesday morning — the day after a passionate marathon public hearing on the issues at the Metro Council the previous night.
Barry said she has signed an amendment — one Councilman Duane Dominy plans to file — that would remove the proposed Southeast jail from the 2015-16 capital improvements budget. She also said that she would be taking a "closer look" at the police headquarters proposal for Jefferson Street in North Nashville over the weekend.
"I have heard loud and clear from residents in Southeast Nashville who are opposed to the relocation of the jail into their neighborhood," Barry said in a statement. "In addition, I have serious concerns about the ability for those who are served by the criminal justice system to access legal representation and transit if we were to move the jail from Downtown to Antioch."
Barry's opposition is not a good sign for a plan that Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall has pushed to replace the downtown jail and other Sheriff's Office facilities located in the aging Criminal Justice Center.
Amendments to Dean's capital budget will be taken up on Tuesday.
At the same time, though, Barry says she will be voting for Dean's $100 million downtown flood protection system. After hearing from downtown stakeholders and talking to experts, she said she is "convinced that this is the right thing for Nashville to do."
Barry's full statement on the jail proposal, police headquarters plan and flood protection system is below:
"I believe that community members should be driving the discussion about the future of their neighborhoods."
"I have heard loud and clear from residents in Southeast Nashville who are opposed to the relocation of the jail into their neighborhood. In addition, I have serious concerns about the ability for those who are served by the criminal justice system to access legal representation and transit if we were to move the jail from Downtown to Antioch.
"Last night, I joined my fellow councilmembers in signing on to an amendment that would take the proposed Southeast jail out of the Capital Improvement Budget. In addition, I heard serious concerns about the relocation of the police headquarters to Jefferson Street, and will be taking a closer look at that proposal over the next week.
"Last night, I also heard from the members of the downtown neighborhood who strongly support the proposed flood protection program. If we know that we can prevent a natural disaster from causing damage and devastation to our economy and to the lives of Nashvillians, we should absolutely take steps to do so. Over the past few weeks I've talked to experts about this plan, and I am convinced that this is the right thing for Nashville to do.
"Since I've served on the Council, Nashville has invested millions of dollars in West Nashville, Pennington Bend and Bordeaux for flood mitigation - but we need to do more, and as mayor, I will work with the Metro Water Department, Army Corps of Engineers and the Metro Council to move forward with more flood mitigation in every part of Davidson County."