Nashville mayor proposes $351M for schools, parks, sidewalks, east bank and more
Nashville Mayor David Briley has proposed a robust $351 million capital-spending plan that hits on a wide range of areas — including schools, parks, street and sidewalk paving, and the redevelopment of a portion of the Cumberland River’s east bank.
Briley’s administration filed a resolution with the Metro Council on Friday outlining the mayor’s first capital-spending plan since taking office in March.
Fresh off winning approval of a $275 million Major League Soccer stadium last month, Briley framed the plan as a focus on more basic projects as part of his return to the “fundamentals.”
“As I said before, we’re going to focus on those fundamentals this year, and that means spending money on public works and Metro schools and parks and the public library system,” Briley said in an interview with The Tennessean on Monday.
He pointed to new positive bond ratings that came last week from Moody’s Investor Services, which affirmed its Aa2 rating for Metro, and Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, which reaffirmed its AA rating for Metro’s general obligation bonds. The ratings come after the council issued $775 million in general obligation bonds last month to pay for capital needs.
“This is a financially prudent and smart way for the city to proceed, and I’m confident the city will move it forward,” Briley said.
The council — which received a letter Monday from the city’s finance director Talia Lomax-O’dneal discussing the spending plan — is set to take up the resolution Oct. 16.
Like all capital-spending plans, Metro will borrow though general obligation bonds to pay for the various projects.
In addition, Briley has proposed de-authorizing $200 million in debt from previously approved projects. This effectively means canceling projects that were never undertaken that the city now believes are no longer needed, allowing funds to be diverted elsewhere.
Briley, who is up for re-election in August, said that decision demonstrates a commitment of “not stretching” beyond the city’s means to the get new projects funded.
Public works to receive third of funding
Nearly one-third of the new 2018-19 capital-spending plan — $107 million — would go to Metro Public Works, including $30 million apiece for sidewalks and street paving and an additional $15 million for new roads.
Metro Nashville Public Schools would receive $60 million in the plan: $10 million for site-work on the future relocated Hillwood High School in Bellevue, and an additional $50 million in dispersed across the district.
The plan allocates $12 million each to take the first steps to build Ravenwood Park in Donelson and Mill Ridge Park, both acquired under former Mayor Karl Dean. It would set aside an additional $10 million for greenways and future park land acquisition.
The plan earmarks $25 million for affordable housing projects, duplicating the same amount that the city set aside last year under former Mayor Megan Barry. There’s also $15 million for a new Donelson Library.
East bank development to get help
In a push to help a massive new private development on the east bank, the spending plan would dedicate $20 million to infrastructure work for the overhaul of the Cowan Street area, site of the ambitious 105-acre River North Nashville project.
River North, which is near the city’s TopGolf location, is envisioned as a mix of urban residential, retail and commercial space.
The $20 million in public money would go toward new streets, a revamped intersection at Cowan and Jefferson streets and other infrastructure work. It would not cover a bridge that the developers have discussed to connect the Germantown neighborhood, on the west side of the river, to River North.
n Nashville, mayors propose capital-spending plans to receive approval for major projects covered by bonds. The most recent capital-spending plan, under Barry, was $288 million. Before that was a $475 million plan in 2016.
Separate from the capital-spending plan, Briley has also proposed tapping an additional $3.1 million for equipment for the sheriff’s office, police and other departments by tapping the city’s 4 percent fund, a special reserve fund for smaller capital needs. The council is scheduled to vote on a resolution to use the 4 percent funds on Oct. 16 as well.
Here’s a full breakdown of Briley’s propose capital-spending plan:
Metro Nashville Public Schools
- $10 million for site work on Hillwood High School replacement in Bellevue
- $50 million in district-wide projects
- $30 million for street paving
- $30 million for sidewalks
- $15 million for roads
- $4 million for bridges
- $3 million for the department’s traffic management program
- $2 million in matching funds to move to twice-a-month recycling pick-up
- $1.5 million for traffic-calming efforts
- $1.5 million for bikeways
- $20 million for east bank infrastructure work near River North
- $10 million more for the new Criminal Justice Center (site of the downtown jail) still under construction
- $17 million more for the new Metro Nashville Police Department headquarters and family justice center under construction on Murfreesboro Pike.
- $15 million for the construction of a new Donelson Library
- $5 million for Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center
- $2.2 million for renovations of the McGruder Center, a family resource center in North Nashville
- $1.8 million for work on Nashville’s warehouse that houses voting machines
- $12 million to begin work on Ravenwood Park
- $12 million to begin work on Mill Ridge Park
- $10 million for new greenways and park land acquisition
- $8 million for deferred maintenance built up in the department
- $15 million for a new Donelson Library
- $500,000 for upgrades at the downtown Main Library, including a new room to honor the women’s suffrage movement
- $200,000 for planning on upgrades at the Richland Park Library
- $25 million for affordable housing projects
- $20 million for various stormwater projects
- $10 million for Metro arts projects through the Percent for the Arts program/contingency
- $15 million for fire trucks, dump trucks and other large vehicles
- $6.3 million for IT work across Metro
- $5 million to update software at the Metro Finance Department
- $3 million to replace voting machines
- $2.3 million for repairs and upgrades at Nashville General Hospital
- $1.2 million on an HVAC replacement at the Nashville Farmers’ Market