‘Gentrification Train:’ Activists Worry Transit Plan Will Drive Out Long-Timers

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Nashville Mayor Megan Barry

Special to the Tribune By J.R. Lind (Patch Staff)

NASHVILLE, TN — Most Metro observers expected a push back against Mayor Megan Barry’s $6 billion transit plan. A sales tax increase is part of the funding proposal — the mayor wants a Metro referendum on the ballot in May — and expected criticisms have already emerged among fiscal conservatives and others on the right.

But a group of protesters took to the streets from the Inglewood Public Library to Public Square Park with concerns from the left, in particular that the plan, which calls for a high-speed rail corridor along Gallatin Pike into East Nashville and Inglewood, will result in even more gentrification in neighborhoods that have already undergone rapid change.

A coalition of anti-poverty activists, affordable housing activists and union members called the People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing and Employment issued a list of demands last week  wants included in the nMotion transit proposal. To wit:

• 24-hour bus service.

• Expansion of bus service to neighborhoods with growing transit-dependent workers, including Antioch, Hermitage and Madison.

• No cuts to existing bus routes.

• Immediate construction of 31,000 low-income homes.

• All public funding for residential development connected to nMotion should be dedicated to those earning less than 60 percent of median household income.

• Don’t sell any public property along transit corridors.

• Place all land taken through eminent domain in a 99-year land trust to prevent its sale to private developers.

• Allot public funding to maintain existing low-income housing in transit corridors.

• Only use construction contractors and subcontractors who pay a living wage and benefits.

• Dedicate city funds for certified apprenticeship programs targeting communities along transit corridors and Promise Zones.

• Pay a living wage to all rail employees, at least $15 per hour, and a right to unionize without retaliation.

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