Fairgrounds Referendum Passes 2-to-1

Yesterday Nashville voters made it harder for city officials to do away with the state fairgrounds.

Term-limited metro councilman Michael Craddock, a fairgrounds supporter, says voters saw it not as a question of whether it should be harder to dismantle the fairgrounds, but whether the fairgrounds should exist at all.

“So this is a loud, clear message to every political officeholder in this entire county not to fool with that fairgrounds, and if you’re going to fool with it, make it better – improve it, spend some money on it and make it better.”

Some neighbors of the fairground have complained in particular about the racetrack there. To that Craddock says they shouldn’t have moved nearby. Colby Sledge with the neighborhood group says he doesn’t see it as a choice between leaving or loving the racetrack:

“I don’t think it’s wrong for neighbors, whether they’ve lived there one year or fifty years, to fight for something that they think will improve their neighborhood.”

Despite a two-to-one margin in favor of of the referendum, former councilman David Briley says it may not mean everyone wants to save the fairgrounds.

“In this city it’s come to a point where people just vote for charter amendments no matter what they say. We really need to think how we’re using charter amendments.”

Shuttering the track would now take 27 metro council votes, but that’s not unheard of; Mayor Karl Dean found 29 for the controversial downtown convention center.

Dean had hoped to redevelop the fairgrounds, but the council rejected that plan. Fairgrounds activists then forced the referendum in hopes of protecting the property.

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