NASHVILLE, TN — Education is the most important thing our city does, and our budget reflects that priority every year. Last week I held a budget hearing with Metro Nashville Public Schools leaders, including school board member Christiane Buggs and the new interim schools director, Dr. Adrienne Battle.
I appreciate Dr. Battle stepping up to take on this challenging but incredibly important work. She and I met on last week as well – I know she’s up to the challenge.
As I’ve said in recent weeks, I plan to be more involved in MNPS’s operations and finances than any previous mayor. I appreciate the school board prioritizing teacher pay in their budget proposal, and I look forward to continuing discussions about how we can raise MNPS employee salaries to competitive levels over the course of multiple years.
This is a unique moment for our schools. Including operating, capital and debt service funds, Metro will spend more than $1 billion on education for the first time in the next fiscal year. But we won’t fix all our problems in one year. Equal resources for schools with different circumstances don’t always mean equal outcomes. So we have a lot more work to do, and I look forward to leading those efforts with Dr. Battle, her team and many other partners.
New parks in vibrant neighborhoods. Parks make communities better by providing places to exercise, relax, gather with loved ones or just enjoy the outdoors. In the past week I’ve cut the ribbon on two parks in growing areas of our city. The 25-acre Oakwood Park in Madison re-opened last weekend after extensive renovations, including a new playground that’s unique in the Metro Parks system; improvements to the basketball courts; a primitive trail that wraps into a one-mile loop; picnic tables; landscaping, and more.
Meanwhile, Fair Park officially opened last Tuesday at the Nashville Fairgrounds with multi-purpose soccer fields, a greenway along Brown’s Creek and a dog park that’s already a big hit. I remember going to the old Fair Park as a child to ride the wooden roller coaster and play in Brown’s Creek. Now, today’s children and future generations will be able to make their own memories there as well as at Oakwood Park and more than 100 other parks across Nashville and Davidson County.
We’ll continue to make these kinds of investments in parks and greenways, because they’re critical to preserving what makes our neighborhoods special and sustaining the quality of life Nashville residents rightfully expect.
Communicating with you in emergencies. Metro has new technology that will allow the city’s public safety agencies to directly communicate with citizens in times of emergency. The Metro Emergency Alert & Notification System (MEANS) delivers safety instructions via cellphone, landline, text/SMS, or text telephone (TTY) for localized emergencies such as flooding, public health emergencies or active shooter situations. You can watch an introductory video about MEANS here.
I encourage everyone to sign up for this free alerting service by visiting the MEANS Portal. Once you’re registered, you can choose how you want to receive communications and enter one or more addresses to receive location-based emergency notifications.
Curbside recycling. The demand for more curbside recycling services has been strong, and we’ll be able to expand those services significantly in 2020. With grants totaling $2.8 million from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, The Recycling Partnership and beauty brand Love Beauty and Planet, Metro will increase recycling collection from once a month to every other week, affecting more than 139,000 Nashville households. We’ll use the grants to buy 16 collection vehicles and provide 8,000 more recycling carts.
This change is another big step to improve our already high quality of life while making Nashville more sustainable.
April 25-27 will be one of the busiest three-day periods in Nashville history. The NFL Draft will bring some 100,000 fans of not just the Titans but also the other 31 National Football League teams to Lower Broadway, Nissan Stadium and other spots in and around downtown. For details and a Q&A on the NFL Draft, click here.
The 20th St. Jude Rock-n- Roll Marathon & 1/2 Marathon will be run that Saturday, the 27th – a day that also will feature a Jimmy Buffett concert at Bridgestone Arena. And we hope to host a Predators playoff game that same week. That would be a good problem to have, so I hope you’ll keep wearing your gold Preds gear to support our team in its quest for the Stanley Cup.
To help ease the traffic flow during those three days, Metro will close its offices and departments at 3 p.m. April 25-26 for all non-essential personnel. I’m encouraging downtown businesses with capacity to do the same or to consider work-from-home, staggered and/or flexible work hours. You can find road closure details here.
That unique weekend will be a perfect lead-in to the Commuter Challenge the following week. With special thanks to Nashville Connector, Metro’s information hub for commuting solutions, we’re asking that anyone who works anywhere in the city try a commuting option other than driving alone at least once during the week of April 27-May 3. Visit NashConnector.org for more information.
Finally, I’m looking forward to closing out the month by delivering the annual State of Metro Address at 10 a.m. on April 30 in the Grand Reading Room at Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St. I’ll talk about what we’ve accomplished in the last year, what we still need to do, and the priorities we’ll make clear in the upcoming budget. Seats are going fast, but you can still RSVP here or make plans to watch the event live on my Facebook page. As a reminder, RSVPing is encouraged, but seats are first-come, first-served.