Plan To Move Nashville's Jail And Police Headquarters Meets Wall Of Resistance
By Tony Gonzalez • Jun 3, 2015
A controversial proposal to relocate Davidson County’s jail from downtown to southeast Nashville took a pummeling Tuesday night during a public hearing in front of the Metro Council. Dozens of residents who live nearby spoke in opposition.
Relocating Nashville’s jail wasn’t the only reason that public comments lasted nearly three hours. But of a handful of proposals that made for an at-times rowdy budget hearing, it was the jail that increased the intensity.
There has been opposition since the day that Mayor Karl Dean and Sheriff Daron Hall announced intentions to close the aging downtown jail. They provided a tour of the 30-year-old facility and laid out a plan to build a new, $110-million jail on city land off of Harding Place.But many said there hasn’t been enough thought about the impact, and they want to know why the old jail shouldn’t simply be repaired. Resident Karen Kelley said building new doesn’t sit well with her neighborhood.
“Our sheriff compared this move to a car. ‘You don’t keep working on your old car. You go out and buy a new one when it becomes too expensive,’ " Kelley said. "Well, where I live, no, you keep working on your car.”
Kelley and others provided a long list of concerns if the jail were to move, including releasing criminals into the area and the lack of nearby support services for offenders in need.
There were five who spoke in favor, although everyone who supported the jail idea also worked for the sheriff’s office. Evin Baylis lives near the proposed site, where Metro already has some jail facilities. He said he’s never seen a problem spill into the neighborhood.“There’s currently jails that are operating there and the addition of another is not going to change my day-to-day dealings with that community. I’m a consumer of that area,” Baylis said.
The jail plan, along with all of the capital projects, still awaits a final vote this month, but the fate of the project has never been more in doubt. Before the meeting ended, council members threatened to pull funding from the relocation plan.