Trouble in Paradise

DeCosta Hastings, Metro Councilman District 2, left, and Winnie Forrester

By Tribune Staff 

DeCosta Hastings was elected District 2 Councilman in September 2015. After four years on the council, he’s become a well-respected political player with roles on three standing council committees and the Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee. 

District 2 includes zip codes 37207, 37208, 37218, 37228. He is being challenged by three others in the August election. “Yes, I have some competition. 

There’s a group led by Winnie Forrester, a wealthy white newcomer to the neighborhood who built large  a home on seven acres off Shreeve Lane right in the middle of the Black neighborhood and owns 9 properties in this historic all Black subdivision. She alone has decided that the district should be represented by a Black Female of her choice. 

Concerned long time homeowners feel there is a strategy to remove all Black males from the city council. They allege that most of the African Americans in the city council are women. There are only 3 African American men, Scot Davis (District 5) whose term now ends and will not be replaced by another Black since that district is now    predominately  white, DeCosta Hastings (District 2 – largest district for Blacks) and Jonathan Hall (District 1). Black women backed by white women want those 2 positions for them (so they can  control the district behind the scenes) and  removing all Black men from city council in Nashville.  

“It City” will be represented by white women, white men and Black women.  Winnie   alleges with no proof that DeCosta made too many zoning changes against residents wishes. Forrester, said she opposes DeCosta because “I suppose the most glaring thing is that he voted three times to allow the Grease Plant to move next door to a 900-home Haynes Manor subdivision.” Without research, Black women believed her and Pied Piper came to life in District 2.

Hastings denies her allegation and offers the  following facts  from the official city council records: former councilman Frank Harrison rezoned the property for an industrial campus which gave the Grease Plant or any industrial business the right to move to that location. It passed on the 3rd reading October 6, 2009. Because of that legislation this land was already zoned and protected under the statue of the state of Tennessee, there was no way for anyone to stop the Grease Plant from moving to that location. He said that is the proof that he had nothing to do with it. 

DeCosta says W. Trinity Lane will be developed around the cultural of the people who live in the district which is the largest African American community in the county. The area along Baptist World Center Drive will be redeveloped. Instead of being devisive the community not Winnie should suggest what they  want to see developed. “That area we can use to get more of a live, play, and work environment,” says Hastings. He said there will be more river access close to downtown. 

“Everything that I’ve had rezoned in District 2, Winnie Forrester has been against,” he said. “She wants all of the development that’s coming, to go through the hands of the Trinity Neighborhood Coalition that Winnie Forrester set up herself, that she’s in control of,” said Hastings. ‘Some older homeowners wonder why Winnie just doesn’t run for office herself especially since she is the biggest land owner in the largest black district in the city of Nashville. ‘The Haynes Trinity Coalition also claim they are not endorsing any candidate yet Winnie Forrester, is the treasurer for Kyonzte’ Toombs campaign. Maybe she believes that blacks aren’t intelligent enough to understand that if you are the treasurer for Kyonzte you must support her.  The coalition she leads is like any NIMBY group: they are all for progress as long as it’s not in their backyard. 

Hastings represents a district that has historically been overlooked and underdeveloped. Now that the city is bursting at its seams, across-the-river Bordeaux represents the final frontier for future development. And from that perspective, Hastings is forward thinking to get industrial land rezoned and to move those businesses further out so a more urban density can develop close to downtown. A number of community organizations complain Nashville’s rapid urbanization has led to growing income disparity, the disintegration of older neighborhoods, and a higher cost of living. 

Many Bordeaux residents want to keep lots of green space in their district. They don’t want Bordeaux to become like the rest of Nashville but they know they can’t prevent all developments. Hastings really butted heads with Forester over creating an historic overlay in the Haynes Manor and Haynes Heights neighborhoods. Those subdivisions were built in the 1950s for black professionals who couldn’t buy homes in Metro’s white neighborhoods. 

The people who moved in there were doctors, lawyers, university professors, architects. R.H Boyd and  Tribune publisher’s husband. “It’s a really special jewel in the eyes of the African Americans so that’s why it’s so important that our neighborhood is preserved. DeCosta Hastings has gone against us and made sure that we can’t even apply,” said Forrester. 

Some older residence resent that fact that Forrester states “our neighborhood” when most of them have been in our neighborhood for over 50 years and many state she doesn’t represent their views. Some older residents said that Forrester knows that her property which is the newest property in the area would not be a part of the Historical Overlay. But the disadvantage for the older properties is that the overlay would prevent them from adding another room or garage, or anything they would want to do as a homeowner. 

Winnie can add or do anything she wants to her property because she is excluded in a Historical Black Community developed because of segregation but now she benefits as a white resident more than the original black property owners. Winnie made sure that she along with a few friends have an Historical Overlay. “Overlays are a type of rezoning that have to be approved by Council so we always recommend that an applicant/ neighborhood go to their council member early in the process to ensure they have his/ her support,” said Robin Zeigler, historic zoning administrator. Zeigler said she briefed a small group Forrester put together but a full community meeting hasn’t happened yet. And it won’t until Hastings is voted out of office, according to Forrester. Again here is a white female newcomer to a Black neighborhood saying a Black man, voted to represent black homeowners should be voted out of office. Or as some community members say, the Homeowners Association should be  controlled by African Americans who own  99% of property in District 2.  

All the wealthy folks on the other side of town are going like gangbusters with conservation overlays and it hasn’t hurt their property values any,” Forrester said. Black neighbors said that Winnie should never compare their neighborhood with wealthy folks on the other side of town as if what they do is the right thing so black folks should do the same thing. Since the white folks did it, its ok Black folks you can do it now. That smacks of covert racism. “Most people just don’t follow the issues and we want to make sure that everybody understands what’s been going on for the last three and a half years,” said Forrester. Is she saying Black folks don’t read or can’t understand the issues?  Forrester’s personal favorite in the District 2 council race is Kyonzte’ Toombs who is committed to her historical overlay. “It will be first thing on her to do list,” said Forrester. 

Again, Forrester is speaking for Toombs, who is running for this seat Toombs or Winnie?  Of course, Toombs has to beat Hastings first. So will Nashville’s It City Council be made up of white and black women and white men? No Black men?  And you ask us the question what is wrong with these young Black boys out of control today.? Destroy the Black man and you destroy the next generation of Nashville’s Black Male youth. Who will they want to be like on the council a female?   

White youth have plenty of role models on the council and in executive positions in city government, white women, some black women and some white men continue to destroy the black male in Nashville.  Maybe if you are rich, white and a woman you don’t comprehend.

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