Metro Council defers vote on Hickory Hollow leases
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Supporters of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds showed up wearing red at Tuesday's Metro Council meeting, but the decision to move certain fairgrounds events to the Hickory Hollow Mall was put on hold.
Bill sponsor Sam Coleman told News 2, "Our neighbors in the Antioch area are going to be sad at first, because they're going to think that all the work we have done to revitalize the Hickory Hollow Antioch area is gone; but that is not the intent."
Rather, Coleman told News 2 the mall's lease is going to have to be completely reworked, specifically to leave out plans to move the Fairgrounds Expo Center to the former Dillard's building.
Also in question are plans to move a public health center into the mall.
According to Coleman, "I think the need is probably still there however I think the community has shared with us that they would like to see the health center in another place."
Plans for a library, government archives and community center are still expected at Hickory Hollow.
The whole plan has fairgrounds supporters criticizing the city's handling of the fairgrounds property.
Race car driver Chad Chaffin said the city needs to start over with the fairgrounds, including the race track.
Chaffin said, "The powers that be feel that if we can carve away that race track then it's easier to do away with the rest of it."
Councilman Charlie Tygard told News 2 the council is beginning a process "that would basically give a one-year extension for the activities at the current fairground with the exception of the race track."
Along with the Expo Center and Flea Market, next year's Tennessee State Fair would be held again at the fairgrounds while the search continues for a new site for the fair.
The Clover Bottom property on Stewarts Ferry Pike near Lebanon Pike and property on County Hospital Road off Briley Parkway are being considered to relocate the fair.
Tygard said, "The three factors we should consider on any location are accessibility of the public, affordability of the land and convenience."
A group of state political and agricultural officials have formed a non-profit group called the State Fair Association, and their goal is to keep the fair in the Nashville area.
Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture Joe Gaines said, "I think we would all like to look in Davidson County as a preferred site."
Gaines wants to keep the burden off taxpayers by making sure the fair is self-sustaining and looking at property that's affordable or already owned by the state.
Gaines said, "We want to continue the state fair. We think that not having a fair for a year or two would damage our attendance."
The Metro Council is scheduled to hear from both proponents and opponents of various state fair sites on January 10.
City Finance Director Rich Riebeling said the city will also begin the process for a lease at Hickory Hollow in January.