Issues 2017 Citizens For Brentwood Greenspace
March 30, 2017
As we do with each City Commission election, a series of questions have been together by our Board of Directors about green space preservation for submission to the 2017 Brentwood City Commission candidates. CBGS will not endorse candidates and seeks to provide the candidates' responses to citizens to help the community gain a better understanding of where each candidate stands on preserving our cherished green space. Results will be shared with our supporters and media at a later date.
To help us formulate the questions of the candidates, this year we decided to find out how our supporters and other residents feel about the future of green space preservation in Brentwood. A survey was created in early March and sent via available channels, which included our email list, Facebook and Twitter. An article in the Brentwood Home Page helped us get the survey out to the community at large as well.
Is green space preservation still important to Brentwood's residents? If you look at the results of our recently completed survey, a copy of which is on our website, the answer is a resounding YES! Some of the key findings include:
· 82% said the preservation of green space in Brentwood was VERY IMPORTANT!
· 72% felt it was VERY IMPORTANT that elected officials understand the significance of green space preservation issues!
· 79% thought it was VERY IMPORTANT that Brentwood have an Open Space Master Plan like Franklin and Nashville!
The comments are also most telling and well worth spending some time to read. There were hundreds, but below are a couple we really liked...
· “We need to retain the quality of life that brought me to Brentwood. Our open spaces and parks define the beauty of our City.”
· “Anytime, we can preserve green space areas, it contributes to the appeal of the area... A calm, relaxing place to resort to. Very important. Nothing appealing about all concrete, houses.”
· “Our green space helps keep Brentwood clean and preserves the beauty of our area. It’s what makes Brentwood an oasis in the middle of massive growth.”
Comments about traffic were also common, and rightfully so given Brentwood's explosive growth. But isn't green space preservation intertwined with growth to an extent?
The preservation of green space consistently ranks among the major issues in Brentwood. We have an amazing park system, but there are still opportunities out there and land is being developed in our community at an alarming rate. A question I think we should all be asking is "what's next"?
Attached below are the list of questions we are sending to each candidate. Please send your responses to the following address by Monday April 10th to:
We will share the results with the community at large through our Web and Facebook sites, emails to our donors and supporters and media releases for publication. The responses from each candidate will be listed in alphabetical order. The Citizens for Brentwood Green Space, Inc. will not endorse any candidates.
Green space preservation is a great investment for future generations. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We would like to thank you for your interest and commitment to serve our community. Feel free to contact me at 615-300-0647 if you would like to learn more about our organization. Best of luck with your campaign efforts.
About Citizens for Brentwood Green Space, Inc.
The Citizens for Brentwood Green Space, Inc. (CBGS) is a volunteer citizens group organized as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation. Our mission is to preserve open space in the form of parks, trails, historic sites, and flood plains while being sensitive to the rights of landowners and developers. CBGS desires to assure that ongoing development of land resources is accomplished in a way that is beneficial to landowners, to existing citizens of the city, and to future generations of Brentwood residents. For more information please visit www.brentwoodgreenspace.org, our Facebook page “Brentwood Green Space” or follow us on Twitter “@BrentwoodGreenS” and Instagram “brentwoodgreenspace”.
2017 Green Space Questions
1.Where would you rank the preservation of green space in Brentwood compared to other priorities facing the City?
As expected, our top priorities as a government should be those services which provide for the safety and welfare of our citizens. Beyond that, those services that are focused on providing a high quality of life would follow. In Brentwood we are fortunate to have had strong fiscal management for more than 25 years and thus, have been able to take advantage of opportunities such as the acquisition of Smith Park when possible. Comparative with other similar options for where our city can carefully invest our tax dollars, the acquisition, improvement and expansion of green space and park land has been near the top of the list, right up there with our library.
2. As a City Commissioner, please outline your view on the role you believe the City should play in the acquisition of park land or dedicated green space in our community. Please address whether you feel the city should be active in the acquisition of such types of land or passive and addressing only requests or offers made by various developers.
I believe there is a mixed approach that does not favor either option exclusively. Yes, the city should be proactive in looking for opportunities to preserve our beautiful pastures and hillsides. If a land owner approaches the city we should welcome the conversation and act diligently to evaluate the opportunity. Powell Park, Wikle Park, and Flagpole Park are examples of having Parks as part of a development that provides wonderful amenities to the residents and large buffers for those who live nearby.
3. Do you feel like Brentwood has enough park land and green space or would you like to see more added?
Personally, I would love to have a great deal more. As well, I’d like to see us continue to connect the city via bike/walking trails and to fulfill the complete plan for Smith Park. If we continue to be responsible with the city’s finances, we will remain well-positioned for future opportunities. Of course, we must approach these priorities with a prudent eye. This is very important to our property values and our quality of life.
4. Surrounding communities like Nashville and Franklin have adopted Open Space Master Plans. Nashville is in the process of revising their original Plan. Open Space Master plans include such things as an inventory of the City’s remaining open space; specific criteria to guide the City in evaluating parcels being considered for open space acquisition; defined measurements for the assessment of the costs and benefits of acquiring open space; and funding strategies for the Plan’s implementation. Would you support the commissioning of such a study for the City of Brentwood?
First and Foremost, Brentwood is unique and is not Franklin or Nashville. Our record as a City and my record as a Commissioner, I feel, is exemplary on acquiring Park Land and green space. During my eight years, we've more than doubled our acreage of park land and created many more bike and pedestrian trails and many new areas of green space. I am not in favor of creating a “master list” of what we want to acquire as this will only lead to more difficult negotiations when they present themselves. Rather, I would like to see us develop a long range “wish list” to address particular areas of town or types of parks/facilities our community would like to have in the future.
5. Would you be in favor of the City purchasing the Turner property if it were to come on the market? And what is your vision of the property if the City was able to make the purchase?
The vision of this is something I feel we all share and may at some point be realized but is something that must be kept in a proper perspective. The property at this time is not for sell or has there been any indication that it will be anytime in the near or mid future. The key to us being ready to even contemplate the purchase of such a valuable piece of land, will be to stay financially strong as a City so there is even the possibility of the City being able to consider this as an option. There will be many things to consider if and when this ever comes about. Some points to ponder would be: the financial condition of the City, the asking price, the overall economy, how much, if not all would be available for purchase, and, by far the most important point would be the desire of the populace to purchase the property by referendum for a bond issue and the increased taxes it will incur and there is always the ongoing costs associated with a parcel of land this size that must be factored in for the future after the purchase is made. This property is a gorgeous piece of land with a beautiful view shed that is associated with Brentwood, so, as a Commissioner, the potential purchase of this land, if available, must be carried out in a way that benefits the citizens of Brentwood in the best way possible.
And what is your vision of the property if the City was able to make the purchase?
The vision is not mine, the vision for a monumental purchase as this, belongs to the citizens of Brentwood. This would be a purchase that would be very substantial; therefore, the consensus of the residents of Brentwood to pass a referendum for the bond issue that it would require to make this purchase would require some sacrifice and the citizens of Brentwood’s joint vision should be the highest consideration. We all have had thoughts of potential uses of this property and these thoughts should be a frame for which the citizens, with the Commissions facilitation, should decide the borders of this frame and the masterpiece that goes within it.
6. As a follow up to Question #5, the second 2020 Plan Resident’s Survey sent in January 2015 asked citizens if they would be willing to pay additional taxes to purchase the Turner Property, and if so, the MAXIMUM in additional property taxes they would be willing to pay annually to allow the City to acquire and maintain all or a portion of the property. Would you be willing to increase taxes to purchase the Turner Property, or to support a bond initiative for the purchase of the Turner property?
As stated above, this would be a monumental purchase for the citizens of Brentwood and an ongoing responsibility. Something of this size should be done with the citizen’s being able to weigh in with a referendum for a bond issue. My thoughts are, there will be a keen interest in the Turner property and there will be a referendum on this matter. So, yes, I would be interested in supporting a referendum, so we, as a community, can decide if we want this property, or a portion thereof, to be preserved and maintained in perpetuity.
Would you personally be willing to pay additional taxes to purchase the Turner property? Please provide details on your stance.
For anything of great value, there always must be a precious price paid. While in office, I have not raised taxes and would strive to not do so. Because of the wise management of resources, I have been very frugal with our citizen’s money, this is what provides realistic opportunity to even consider a purchase of the Turner property, while at the same time, makes me very cautious to consider a tax raise without a clear mandate of Brentwood’s population. If we, as a community, decided to purchase this beautiful and rare gem, then I would definitely be willing to pay my share of the increase as a resident of Brentwood.
7. What is your view of the priority of bicycling/walking infrastructure planning so that our community becomes more “walkable and bicycle friendly” in the future?
I feel the establishment and report of the Bike/Ped committee was a good step in that direction, even though, the City and Commission for years has sought ways to make the City more bike/ped friendly. This is already part of our infrastructure planning as you can see by the bike/ped paths on Concord Rd. and Split Log Rd. and this type of path will continue to be a part of road improvements in the future. We also have endeavored to incorporate these types of paths as developers come to us with any new proposals, example would be the Holt/Witherspoon development on Crockett Rd. We have scheduled to spend $2,555,000 through FY2023 just on Bike/Ped projects My answer is the City and Commissioners have for years made bike and pedestrian friendly solutions a part of the infrastructure planning of Brentwood.