By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — Traffic congestion relief and protection of his community from rampant development are just two goals for Metro’s District 2 councilman, he said, advocating both after a recent meeting.
Facing three challengers in his bid for re-election, Councilman DeCosta Hastings is criticized as being pro-business, but he’s pro-community, he said after participating in early discussions on bridge projects and what developments could come with them.
The big idea is a Cumberland River bridge between Metro Center and West Trinity Lane. Another idea advocates reversible lanes for rush hour motorists on Clarksville Pike and the MLK Memorial Bridge. It’s possible sooner. Sidewalks, bike and bus lanes are proposed.
Hastings named members to the Nashville Infrastructure for Community Expansion Committee. NICE Committee members are “talking with the Army Corps of Engineers about an alternate location for the bridge if the planned place does not work out,” Hastings said. It’s to be a signature bridge; an image for Nashville like the Golden Gate Bridge is for San Francisco. The committee met May 22 at 1230 W. Trinity Lane.
Ragan-Smith engineering Vice President Alan Thompson anticipates no major location change. The six-month-old committee is developing a recommendation to be “vetted by Metro Public Works and the Tennessee Department of Transportation,” said Thompson who’s attended NICE meetings. The pending $150 million plan is based on “well-founded ideas,” he said, “but they need funding.”
Hastings agrees with that, and a maxim long-held by TDOT: transportation projects spur development. He advocates growth that benefits District 2 and residents’ requests, including so-called sit-down restaurants and jobs that pay well; not just service work or functionary positions.
“I’ve worked hard to make the business development move in the right direction,” Hastings said, adding that it is. “I’ve been meeting with Fortune 500 companies; met with one [recently] that is looking to make District 2 a home. I’ve met with … Amazon [and] representatives from Google. They are looking. Amazon is already inside our district, but there are other opportunities for our area.”
Hastings was criticized last year as residents opposed relocation of Onsite Environmental, 1421 Baptist World Center Drive, to 2832 Whites Creek Pike, saying it should be far away.
Now, nearly six months later, Metro Council’s legal team delivered to Hastings a report showing the zoning was set before he was elected. “The grease plant got the right to go where they wanted to go,” he said.
A public frenzy was whipped up “to make me Mr. Badguy,” Hastings said. Grease plant opposition was used to help “run their candidate against me and paint a picture that is not true. I knew the truth, but I have the information to back it up now … My legislation in 2017 was more on the rules to govern the rules changed by the prior councilman,” Frank Harrison.
“I could not stop (Onsite Environmental) from going where they’re going,” he said. “The original bill started on Nov. 18, 2008” when he was self-employed and teaching school. Hastings was elected in 2015.
District 2 residents Hastings appointed to the NICE Committee include Donovan Hilton, Tony Driver, Donna Jones, Annecia Donigan and John Johnson, he said.
Also last month, Whites Bridge residents opposed warehouses planned just across Hastings’ district line. He says he didn’t know much about it, but his mother-in-law lives near there. He knows people oppose change. “That’s not my area, Hastings said. “I don’t have an opinion on it.” The warehouse plan was withdrawn from the June 13 planning commission agenda.