Developer’s proposal for new recreation park

Feener Property

Should the city spend $2.1 million to buy 78 acres at the end of York Road?

Here’s the report on the property from the City’s GIS system: Feener Property.

A couple of observations:

  1. The land was bought in October of 2006, eleven months ago, for $450,000. The developer now wants the City to buy it for $2.1 million? And the City Commission is taking this idea seriously?
  2. The land is NOT lakefront. The southwest corner touches the Cedar Creek inlet, which is mostly a mud flat.
  3. Its steep, not flat. The flattest part is the southwest corner closest to the creek, but even here, it rises 40 feet vertically in 627 feet horizontally. My calculator makes that a 6.4% slope. Just as a reference, the “runaway truck” slope on I-24 over Monteagle is a 5% grade. Across the eastern third of the parcel, it rises from 500′ to 615′ over a distance of 1205′ — a 9.5% slope. This might make a dandy nature preserve… but its not very well suited for ball fields.

And the City Commission needs a committee to evaluate this proposal?




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21 responses to “Developer’s proposal for new recreation park

  1. Bobby Franklin

    The reason I am sharing this is because I still live in the City of Mt. Juliet. I love this place and suffer along with all citizens when bad decisions are made at the Commission level.

    Ray Justice asked me what I thought about this property over a year ago. The city could have purchased the property for 450,000 dollars at that time. I told Ray that the property would be extremely expensive, if not impossible, to develop into level ball fields. Ray wanted to level both properties to produce about 140 acres of Park area.

    Carolina Holdings had just gone through the expense of leveling 100 acres to build Providence Marketplace. I remember being told that it cost over 18 million to level that property and it had fewer slopes than the property Ray wanted to buy. I told Ray that I thought it would cost at least 20 million or more to make level ball fields out of the 140 acres. This was simply a guess based on a similar grading project at the time.

    I reminded Ray that York Road was also substandard and became impassable during the rainy season sometimes for days. One section of that road is below the 100 year flood plain and somewhat susceptible to flash flood problems. An adjacent property owner had been very kind to allow people to drive through his property to get around the deep water on York Road just so his neighbors could get to Highway 70. York Road would certainly have to be improved to handle the increase in traffic – especially since it is one long cul de sac. Road construction costs were running about 2 million a mile at that time.

    I don’t think Ray and I ever got to the question of sewer cost since we were passing the 25 million mark based on road and grading costs. I suppose 1.65 million more should be added since the purchase price is now that much higher.

    I was surprised to see that the Commission is even considering this now.

    In May of 2007 I was asked to sit on the Parks Board as a non-voting member. I agreed and at the first attended meeting was asked to find and recommend 50 to 100 acres near the center of town to add to the park system. I found 80 acres about half way between Highway 70 and I-40 off Curd Road. The property was mostly in the flood plain and would have road frontage on the newly constructed Eastern Connector (part of our Major Thoroughfare Plan). The best part being that the land was almost completely flat (less than 15 feet of slope across the entire tract) and only 1200 feet away from our sewer system. It appeared to me that this property would be ideal in that the cost of infrastructure and grading should be low. (The Commission had already resolved to build the Eastern Connector anyway)

    I presented this tract to the Parks Board and all members seemed excited. I was asked to find out the cost but was terminated before sharing my findings with the Board. It appeared the land owner wanted about 1.5 million for level land in the heart of town in July. That may have changed since the Commission is now considering such an inferior tract for 2.1 million.

    Your ex-City Planner

  2. Butch

    To: Publius and Bobby Franklin,

    Thank you for posting. This information is tremendously helpful. This site needs to be advertised. It is a way for the citizens to be fully informed of what is going on in the city without censorship.

    By the way, Bobby, thank you for your service to the city. I hate the way things turned out for you. You deserved better.

    The commission needs to really do a gut check…things are not going well.

    Butch Huber

  3. Apolitical Observer

    It is embarassing the way Ray Justice has snookered the Commission into seriously considering this property at that price. ‘Considering’ is an understatement in the case of Will Sellers. He acted like a new puppy chasing after a rabbit and completely wiped out what credibility he had remaining with his bubbly support. I think there is ample skepticism remaining, certainly the Vice Mayor isn’t fooled and from what I read in the Mt. Juliet News the Mayor isn’t either. So perhaps it’s up to the unpredictable Mr. Bradshaw as to where this turkey comes to roost.

    The other thing that disturbs me is the mindset that parkland has to be leveled, deforested and covered with ballfields to make it a park. Mr. Justice has backed off of that position somewhat but it is still disturbing.

    Perhaps all that money the Commission seems to want to waste can instead be spent on the Greenway Plan, which has received only lip service over the past several years. Unlike the York Road Outpost, private and federal grants are available, exponentially reducing the cost although increasing lead times. Which means the time to act is now.

  4. Butch

    The city needs a new municipal center.

    For a moment, let’s take everything else off of the table and let’s just consider that one issue.

    Over the next 20 years, in order for the city to function properly, the city government will need to grow in terms of the total number of people employed by the city. However, as the city begins to max out its growth, the number of employees needed with begin to fall off. It should be somewhat like a bell curve that has been pushed to the east, with our peak need at about the 15 year mark.

    If we start the process of developing a building plan right now it would most likely be two to three years before the project would be completed.

    The city is going to go through tremendous changes in the next two to three years, but those two to three years will be nothing compared to the following 12 to 13 years.

    If we don’t anticipate the growth during that 12 to 13 year period, and plan accordingly, and if we only plan for the 2 to 3 year period, we will have already outgrown our new municipal center before we even get into it…kind of like the new elementary school.

    If we do anticipate the growth, and we do plan accordingly, we will build a building that will house the government throughout its growth phase…and if we do that….we will be able to keep the government municipal center in the same location forever. Not having to move the city government again will save the city a fortune over time.

    There is no question that we will need more infrastructure…that is a forgone conclusion…the need actually already exists. The question is…”Where are we going to put the city’s government offices”?

    So, I ask you to think to yourselves, and to post your conclusions here.

    If you could put the city government offices geographically anywhere inside the city’s twenty year growth plan footprint, where would you put them. Bobby Franklin is probably the most qualified person in the city to answer that question; Bobby, if you would, please tell us where you think the best place to put the city office building would be.

    Let’s settle that issue first. We need to take care of infrastructure “before” we take care of parks and recreation. It is kind of like making sure you have a roof over your head and a car to get back and forth to work before you buy that neat little speed boat, isn’t it?

    The government does not have bottomless bank accounts; we can’t afford mistakes. We have to be far sighted enough to make wise decisions for our future. This is more than just about parks and recreation and municipal centers…this is about developing government norms that will help push society away from that tax and spend mentality and toward fiscal responsibility. It comes down to the real question…do you want government to spend your money, or do “you” want to spend it? Government has to have enough money to operate, but where does government functionality begin and end?

    We can certainly take a look at parks and recreation, and probably should, but isn’t it more important to take care of the “Have to” items before we take care of our “Want to” items?

    Butch Huber

  5. Bobby Franklin

    I appreciate the kind words Mr. Huber. Staff members at the city carry out the policies as set by the City Commission. If the Commission requested that the City Manager find a new site for City Hall I feel sure he would use all his personnel assets to do so. I would have been only one of those assets. He would talk to every Department Head to understand the long term need for each. The Commission has never issued that policy directive that I am aware of.

    I point this out because it is one of the main things wrong with the City at this time. Policy is supposed to dictate practice instead of practice dictating policy. You ordinarily wouldn’t redo your Park and Greenway policy just because a developer offered you land for sale.

    That said, I no longer work there and do have my own opinion. Keep in mind it is coming from my perspective alone without the benefit of other Department Heads. We operated as a team.

    The City already owns four and one half acres on the southern corner of Mt. Juliet Road and Industrial Drive. I think the City should consider buying the adjacent seven acres where S and S Industry use to be. Here is why:

    The three (main) building needs of the City are Administrative, Police, and Public Works. Those uses are difficult to combine in one building. Public Works is Industrial in nature and not a feast for the eyes. They need secure space to store expensive equipment and inventory, a garage, and offices. The Police Department needs security, parking, private office space, and dispatch. Administrative people need simple office space, secure file space, and a place to conduct Commission meetings.

    These three uses could be joined in a complex with Public Works in the back, out of sight, in the Industrial zoned portion of the property. The Administration building could front Mt. Juliet Road and comply with the Town Center Overlay District standards. The Police section in the middle would add security and have access to both Industrial Drive and Mt. Juliet Road. The uses of all buildings would be consistent with existing zoning standards (policy dictates practice).

    There has always been a need for a large meeting space in Mt. Juliet. The terrain could be utilized for basement construction – possibly reducing the square footage cost of a large meeting room. This property is also adjacent to the Commuter Rail Station and could benefit from the 200 plus vacant parking spots at night. This would offer great overflow capability for the mere cost of a pedestrian walkway.

    City Hall would be in the middle of town and would add value to the Town Center concept.

    I hope this helps.

  6. Apolitical Observer

    I agree and disagree with the two preceding posts, primarily disagreeing with Mr. Huber’s priorities. To say that a municipal center is a pre-eminent and immediate need is, I think, completely wrong. Our one endangered resource is land. The city already owns adequate land to meet their needs, as Mr. Franklin pointed out. While we don’t need to overpay for remote tracts that will cost millions more to utilize, the one area of planning for our future where we won’t get a second chance is planning for open space. As developers cry the blues that they need to stick ten houses on every acre or they’ll starve to death, it is increasingly apparent that legislated, donated, preserved or purchased open space is important.

    We don’t need an expensive municipal monument. The current facility seems to have plenty of ‘breathing room’ with the exception of when traffic court is in session. The one department likely to expand most quickly with full voter support (despite the speed traps that fill the courtroom) is the Police Department. The current City Hall would make a good home for a central police station. Certainly the technology already in place there would be expensive to move and the city put a half-million dollar roof on the building less than ten years ago. And let’s face it, it already looks like a police station.

    Public works could expand from and probably rebuild at its current location. So the next step is to look at what needs to be in a new facility which would be the ‘face of Mt. Juliet’, without going crazy and building a Taj Mahal and feeling a need to compete with Goodlettsville.

    The city services that are most relevant to us plain citizens are the County Clerk’s office, a place to pay bills, the meeting room and the courtroom. A building with office space, courtroom, conference room and meeting room, with a county clerk’s office included, would be all that is needed in new construction. Using a basement to perhaps mirror an upstairs floor plan as I think Mr. Franklin has suggested would be a great saving of taxpayer dollars. As would designing the building to be able to be expanded vertically. Utilizing the train station lot, as Mr. Franklin suggested, is a great idea. Peak traffic occurs in the evenings for traffic court, various commissions and boards and the Bi-monthly Monday Night Smackdown.

    Do we need to provide places for people to meet first and people to relax second? Ask my kids. If I say, “Let’s go to the town meeting room!” I wouldn’t get the same response as I would suggesting a trip to Planet Playground. Walking around fancy municipal offices and extensive empty meeting rooms just wouldn’t pack the punch that walking or biking down a greenway would provide.

    And getting to work on the greenway plan would be a way for commissioners to work together. The Mayor, Vice Mayor and every single commissioner up there has vocally supported park development, and every one of them in office at the time voted for the greenway plan. It would involve getting down to work if done right- grants to apply for, working with potential donors, working with other government agencies. But would leave a better lasting legacy than Censure-o-rama and the parks planning equivalent of buying an Edsel without test-driving the Lexus for the same money.

  7. raytears

    Why do we shy away from doing something with the town center ? Division & Mt Juliet rd. It could give us a great center to our city.

  8. Butch Huber

    Having been the city planner for several years, you must have developed a mental picture of how this city is likely to grow and what it will look like over the next 3,5,10,15, and 20 years. I am sure that you have been able to make comparisons to other cities that have had similar growth rates, starting with similar populations..etc…

    Based on what you have learned, what would you say are the top three or four priorities the city should be looking at, in what order, and why.

    I believe we need to focus on the top priorities, while keeping the other issues in mind, until we have resolved the major issues and then begin working on the other issues.

    Butch Huber

  9. Butch Huber

    Greenways, parks, municipal centers, aquatics centers, $20,000,000 gifts to the YMCA, senior center, teen center, cultural center, roads, sewer, etc., these are all things that need to be front and center in “public” debate.

    I don’t think I ever said that we need to build a “monument unto ourselves” as Mayor Elam once called it. (By the way apolitical observer, your syntax and word usage in your article in the paper have betrayed your identity.)
    I have an idea, let’s look at the greenways (I am assuming you are talking about the walking/riding trails) and do a full analysis of them. Let’s look at number of people who actually use them in comparison to the population base that surrounds them. Then let’s look at the amount of time each user spends on the greenway each week on average. I bet we could even take measurements and get the number of steps the statistical average person using the greenway takes actually “on” the greenway each year. We could divide the number of steps into the cost of the greenway, and we could determine the actual cost per step. I bet that the cost-per-step-ratio would be higher than you would expect. I bet you would find that less than 10% of the population uses the greenway more than 5 times per year. I bet it would be cheaper for us to buy the statistical average user tickets to an African Safari each and every year than to build and maintain those greenways.

    Things like greenways are great ideas in theory, but in application they are usually way less cost effective than we would like. Greenways are “sexy”….they allow politicians to appeal to the call of nature, or the call of the wild. They engender visions that we can have suburban or urban life while still maintaining rural life as well.
    I am not saying that it isn’t important to maintain some open space, and I am not even saying that it isn’t a nice “idea” to have greenways. However, if you were operating government like it is a business, and not some social experiment, I believe you would not be able to justify “Greenways” as a capital expenditure.

    Our present reality is that the city will explode with growth unless something is done to stop it, and there will be very little greenspace left. That is a reality. You can attempt, and should attempt, to maintain some level of green in the city. It would be an ugly sight to see nothing but buildings everywhere, but preserving greenspace and developing money gobbling projects are not the same thing. So, let’s be honest and let’s separate the two issues. I am all for developing the city in a way that makes sense. I am not saying that we shouldn’t spend “any” money on walking trails. But I think it is irrational to categorically say that we don’t need infrastructure development to prepare for the growth of the city because Apolitical Observer wants to go for a walk.

    Apolitical Observer wants you to believe that I am suggesting a large capital outlay to build unnecessary infrastructure. He is wrong on both points. My plan for the Mt. Juliet/ East Division area is one that “Could” enable the city to develop a municipal center with little cash out of pocket, and with little to no “real” cost to the taxpayer. So to characterize my plan as building a “monument” is wrong. I never suggested a “monument”. To call it a “monument” develops a mental picture in the reader’s mind that the project is “costly” and “Pretentious”. What I was suggesting is that the city utilize its power and position to develop a project that would “reduce” the burden on the tax payer, ensure that an area that has been designated as the town center is developed in a responsible and quality manner, and that would enable the city to address a “growing” need.

    Obviously, Apolitical Observer and I are on different sides of the political spectrum. He asks, “Do we need to provide places for people to meet first and people to relax second?”
    First off, why should “I” have to provide a place for “you” to “relax” at all? He assumes that we need to provide a place for people to relax…That sounds very liberal to me. Since when is it the government’s responsibility to provide for your or my relaxation. We are a free society, not a kingdom or a monarchy. If you or I want to have a place to relax you or I are more than welcome to build our own peaceful place. If we want a park, we are more than welcome to get together with others who feel the same and develop our own park. If we want greenways, you and I and all our “green” friends can all get together and reach into our own pockets and pay for it.

    This whole “sexy” project mentality means that we are literally stealing from one person to support the desires and wishes of another. Here’s an example of why I feel the way I do: If the government determines that we are going to fund the Mayor’s $20,000,000 gift to the YMCA, we will be taking money from the city coffers to make that wonderful gift. Since only 9% actually want the project, and most likely only 40% to 50% of the 9% will actually use it on a regular basis, (I am sure that many more will be “occasional users”, so I will put the number back up to 9%) we will be giving $20,000,000 to roughly 9% of the people. Do you really think that it stops there? Do you think that the YMCA gift will be the end of the story? The remaining 91% want to be represented also, don’t they? So, they will want their “pet” projects funded as well, won’t they? If we spend all our money on the YMCA gift, how will we be able to fund the pet projects of the other 91%? The answer is we can’t! But let’s say we have “some” money left over. Let’s say we take on another project; for the sake of argument we will call the second project, “Project x”. Now, Project x has support from 18% of the population base. Let’s assume, because of the nature of the socialistic ideology of the supporters of the YMCA project they are all in support of project “x” as well, so half of the 18% comes from the YMCA supporters and the other half are new to social projects. Now, 9% of the people have had two gifts, and 9% more of the population have had one gift. Now, we are plum out of money. Now, let’s suppose that you will personally never use either project. Money that could have been allocated toward projects that you support is now spent in projects that others supported. Is that fair to you? Now, let’s say that there is a very large group of people, let’s say 51% of the population, that wants yet another project. We will call that “project majority”. Project majority can’t be funded by current income because we are tapped out from the YMCA gift and from project “x”, but so many people want project majority that the government feels it has no choice but to support it, so the city starts a property tax to support the project. You might say, ” that’s the American Way, majority rules”. Well, I say, if we weren’t using taxpayer money to support pet projects, we would be able to afford to pay for project majority with current revenues. I say that I now have to pay taxes to support project X and the gift to the YMCA. If we stop all the government giving there would be a lot more private giving, and we would also be able to afford the necessary items without such high levels of taxation in our society, we would keep most of our money, people could afford to live better, give more, and spend their money where they want to spend it, and government would have way less power and influence in our private lives. Political positions would be less attractive to power hungry maniacs if we take the power and money away from them. Remember, we are supposed to be the ones with the power, not the politicians, the only reason politicians have such power is because we abdicate our authority as citizens. The politicians say that we have the power of the vote. That is true, but they are deceiving you when they say that. It is a neat trick. It is to say that you and I only have a voice for a few seconds every four years (when we are voting), and that in between election days, you and I are to keep our mouths shut and stay out of the way. What they are saying is; “I will kiss your ^$$ one day out of every four years and you can kiss my ^$$ for the next 1460 days.

    Secondly, why do I need to provide a place for people to “meet”? I suppose you are talking about a meeting place for the general public to get together an talk or congregate. Perhaps you are reading where I suggested that my project would support a cultural center, sports center, teen center, senior center, etc. The reasons I would include those items in the mix is because the entitlement mentality has become so entrenched in our society that, today, unless you attach frills to any project you are not likely to get them through “and” because I believe we can provide infrastructure for some of these things through the profits from the project. I really believe that people who have a vision for such things should get off their sorry butts and start a non-profit organization to develop their ideas. If the idea is viable..they will build it. There are many evidences of my position all across America.

    Government is very inefficient at things it doesn’t absolutely have to do. We pay way to much of our income in the form of taxes in this country. A major cause of such high taxation is waste. We spend huge amounts of money on unnecessary pet projects and we fund political agendas through pork barrel spending. Taking money from the masses to build projects that sound good in theory, and that have a lot of sex appeal, but that make very little sense from a financial point of view, continues the upward spiral to national financial ruin. We simply can’t afford to keep paying for everyone’s “want to” projects. Apolitical Observer wants Greenways, the next guy wants soccer fields, the next guy wants basketball courts, the next guy wants tennis courts, the next guy wants football fields, the next guy wants a community gymnasium, the next guy wants a culture center, the next guy wants a track and field center, the next guy wants a museum, the next guy wants a community center, the next guy wants an arts center, the Mayor wants to give the YMCA $20,000,000, and the list goes on and on.
    How about this: if you want to go to a museum, how about visiting the ones that already exist first; if you want to go to the YMCA, how about supporting the one in Donelson and Hermitage and how about working with them to get them here without the city laying out $20,000,000; if you want a city park, how about doing the leg work to develop the funds through charitable donations and through endowments. How about paring back government spending to only those things that absolutely need to be handled by government, and let the free market provide the other items.

    This is America, capitalism will step in where government gets out of the way…it always does. In fact, capitalism almost always does the job faster, cheaper, and more productively than government could ever dream of doing it. When capitalism steps in, those who actually want something get to pay the tab instead of making everyone pay for the desires of the loud and boisterous few.

    But, if you are among the crowd that just “has” to take from the masses and give to the few, count me in with the few. I will take my share in cash. Thank you in advance for my share.

    Butch Huber

  10. Apolitical Observer

    raytears, I think it would be great for a developer or retailer to do something with the town center. I don’t think the city needs to buy it. The city should not be in the real estate and development business, they should use the land they already own to meet projected future needs with a modest but attractive and appropriate building. A good example of what a town center building should look like is going up right now near Old Lebanon Dirt Road (the big one, definitely NOT the little one).

    I am sure Mr. Franklin’s response will be informed and thoughtful but certainly not the only valid opinion.

  11. Apolitical Observer

    Mr. Hubris, as Ronald Reagan once said “there you go again”. Have you studied the big picture on the use, expense and benefits of greenways ? Do you know anything about the existing plan and it’s historical context?

    Unfortunately, nothing you have said provides any compelling new insight into our city’s problems or informed solutions. And the problem with really looooong posts is that by the end at least someone may have nodded off to sleep, or you run the danger of contradicting yourself.

    I admire your committment to the betterment of the city. Even if your contributions to date are largely rants against the Mayor and those who disagree with you, at least you are also getting involved in the forum of ideas. Your posts for the most part are are intelligent and thought through. But you should be less critical of those who walk the walk until you do more than talk the talk.

  12. Butch Huber

    Apolitical Observer,

    When you make fun of a person’s name you are no better than John R. At least I am willing to put my name out in there for everyone to see, rather than hiding. That having been said, I will give you an “A” for originality, I have never been called Hubris before…that was a good one. But let me ask you, would you rather me be a wet noodle or someone who strikes you as being overconfident or arrogant. (The excessive pride part of the definition for the word Hubris really doesn’t apply…it may have in the past, but I have been very much humbled by God over the years.)
    Would you want me to make fun of your real name? I am sure that I could find a word or two to substitute for your real name.

    You ask: Have you studied the big picture on the use, expense and benefits of greenways ? Do you know anything about the existing plan and it’s historical context? The answer to your questions are: No and No. That doesn’t mean that an existing study is correct either, I can make a study say anything I want it to say. All it means is that “I” haven’t studied it. You speak as though you are the only one who has the right solutions. If you will study my posts you will rarely see where I emphatically say that I am right. Mostly I have made suggestions; I don’t have a habit of making suggestions that I think are silly, so there is a reasonable basis to believe that I “think” or “believe” I am right; to suggest something I thought was wrong would be insane.

    You said:
    Unfortunately, nothing you have said provides any compelling new insight into our city’s problems or informed solutions. And the problem with really looooong posts is that by the end at least someone may have nodded off to sleep, or you run the danger of contradicting yourself.

    Unfortunately, the real problem is the willingness of others to stand by and allow a politician to harm others to further her own agenda without lifting a finger to stop her. Pointing out the pay disparity is not compelling to you…so I guess you are okay with your employees not being properly paid? Pointing out that the city manager didn’t actually resign of his own free will, but rather was forced to resign under duress is not compelling to you? The only reason the things I have pointed out to you are not compelling is because you are squarely in Mayor Elam’s camp. In fact, the things that I have pointed out should make you furious with the mayor, yet you want to make it about things like how long my posts are and about my name.

    Everything is a negotiation, not necessarily a contradiction. I believe, what I believe, all the time…but that does not mean that my mind is closed and that I can’t consider what the other person wants, or even the possibility that I am wrong. I don’t see that humility in you, you seem to think you know exactly what the city needs and that everyone should just listen to you and not think for themselves.

    You say:

    I admire your commitment to the betterment of the city. Even if your contributions to date are largely rants against the Mayor and those who disagree with you, at least you are also getting involved in the forum of ideas. Your posts for the most part are are intelligent and thought through. But you should be less critical of those who walk the walk until you do more than talk the talk.

    My contributions are mostly regarding the actions of Mayor Elam because it is the central issue that this city is dealing with; politicians who don’t do what is good for the city, but who instead do whatever they want, who bully city employees, who cause harm to others, and who don’t follow the laws. An orderly society begins with a foundation of rules, then with sanctions for violating those rules. If we do not hold politicians accountable there will never be meaningful solutions to the rest of the problems.

    As far as being less critical of others unless I am willing to walk the walk…

    I am walking the walk. You don’t have the courage to post your own name, yet I am (and have been) standing in the face of the commission and reflecting back to them what I see. I don’t see you in the game…except where you are trying to get me to lay-off the mayor. I served 9 years in the United States Navy serving my country…how many years have you served? I didn’t just serve 9 years, I gave you my best, Mr Apolitical Observer. No, Mr. Apolitical Observer….I am, and have been, walking the walk. Just because I am not currently seeking public office doesn’t mean that I won’t one day seek public office…it just won’t be for mayor or commissioner, and it won’t likely be for another 10 to 12 years. I have young children at home and don’t choose to neglect them or put them in a place where they are made fun off or chastised because their father is willing to serve. What race can I look forward to seeing your name in…will it be listed as Apolitical Observer?

    I recently learned of a non-partisan organization called American Solutions. It is headed up by Newt Gingrich. I haven’t really looked at it in depth, but from what I have seen it appears that he and I share the same opinion of how to straighten out government…from the outside in. This city will never be set straight be the mayor or commissioners…they are too close to the problem. The only way things will get straightened out is for citizens to hold elected officials accountable and force them to act right.
    You too seem to be an intelligent person, surely you can see that the only hope to have a “civil” government is for citizens to do their civic duty. Voting is not our only responsibility. What you and I should be doing is working together to solve as many of the issues as we can and to cause fundamental change in the behavior of the commission. Surely you can’t be satisfied with what you are seeing…or are you too blinded by your friendship with the mayor to see the real issues?

    With our society so polarized it is unlikely that either side will win over the other. So to bring substantive change we must endeavor to solve the things that cause the acrimony, not the acrimony itself.

    Butch Huber

    Butch Huber

  13. Apolitical Observer


    One of the reasons I post anonymously is because I DON’T want to be involved in the turmoil on either side. Yes the mayor is a friend but so is everyone else involved in what has happened down there. That is also the reason I don’t enter into a discussion with you on that. I think stirring the pot , no matter who is holding the spoon, does more harm than good. We disagree there. I would be an idiot if I thought anyone I knew didn’t know who I was by now.

    I think there are many areas where we agree on policy. We disagree on what defines the big picture. I see the big picture as the citizens keeping control of this community, as I presume you do. But your approach is focusing on the Mayor which has the effect of creating tunnel vision. Remember that those of us who supported Rob in the first effort to remove him had two ‘heroes’. One was you, the other was Linda Elam.

    I look at the history of this city and see a power struggle above and beyond what is happening at city hall, and what is happening at city hall pales in comparison (IMO). The people who wanted Rob and Bobby gone from the beginning (and I am NOT talking about Ray) are loving your current efforts.

    My posts to you are seen as insulting because they disagree with yours. I am only asking you to look beyond your opinions, so you don’t accidentally aid in an effort to turn back the clock.

    If you know who I am, you know I am walking the walk. Everyone seeing your name is meaningless, that is your choice. Most people on here are not fooled by the identity of raytears or Publius either, but the fact is it is a choice we made that should be respected.

    At this point I will agree that the areas where we agree and disagree won’t change, so there is no point in a continued battle of words. I am taking a vacation from RFMJ, feel free to post a diatribe, it won’t be answered. You can chase after the Mayor and I can do what I do and when we agree we can work together.


    Apol O

  14. Butch Huber

    Apolitical Observer,

    I am aware that there is a group of people who operate behind the scenes, trying to control the city. That bothers me, too.

    For everyone’s edification, I post diatribes because it takes a lot of words to unwind some of the things that are said in some of these posts. People make statements that have psychological undertones that the reader picks up on. It is easy to make a post that does this, but it is not easy to undo it.

    Apolitical Observer, I believe you and I could very much work together on the issues, all of the issues, except where you have a personal connection.

    Remember, Linda was my friend, not a close friend, but a friend “BEFORE” this all took place, and I am still a friend…even if she hates me right now. I actually can separate the person from the offense…well, when the offense is not against me at least. I wish the commission and the law enforcement agencies would do their sworn duty and hold the mayor accountable for her actions so that I would not have a need to be involved. Unfortunately, they won’t, so here I am.

    I am fully aware of the fact that there is a group that wants to control the issues from behind the scenes…and I am sure that they are happy that I am going after the mayor. But what is being missed here is that I am not just going after the mayor. I am after the whole process, the mayor just happens to be the catalyst that is once again bringing me into the picture (I need to focus on other things in my personal life, so this is not convenient to me in any way). I told the commission several years ago that they should adopt a set of protocols and procedures that had sanctions attached for those who violate those protocols and procedures. Mostly, those protocols and procedures already exist in the TCA, ordinances of the city, Resolutions of the city commission, and in Robert’s Rules of Order. However, it is apparent that the commission has no intention of regulating itself. So I guess my point of a set of protocols and procedures is really mute.

    What I believe Apolitical Observer is suggesting, and I understand his sentiment, is that I should lay-off the mayor so as to not help the “other” group that is trying to control the city and have “their” way. I understand the adage that you should “take the lesser of two evils”, but I believe that in this case that is not the right approach.

    I believe we need to separate issues, deal with each issue appropriately, and I believe we need to place safe-guards in our government so as to dilute the influence of the so called Cabals and self-interest groups.
    (I was not accepted in the Cabal because I won’t do things in “secret”. I was blackballed from Cabal…just kidding.)
    I can’t dismiss what Mayor Elam has done simply because holding her accountable “might” give another group a stronghold.

    I believe “she” is the one who gave the other group a stronghold when she forced Rob to resign. I believe “she” is the one who gave the other group a stronghold when she attacked Hatton Wright. And I believe her actions, whether direct or not, gave the “other” group a stronghold when Bobby Franklin was fired. It was “her” breech of integrity that caused the losses…my holding her accountable, or at least trying to hold her accountable, is after the fact.

    For years the “other” group has been largely held at bay. Their influence has not been as strong because the city had a city manager that actually tried to follow the law. I believe that Mayor Elam found herself in a situation where she had conflicting interests and obligations. She had an allegiance to the city, to the citizens, to the city employees, and to the developer she was working for at the time. This caused an untenable situation for her, because she could not have satisfied all involved. I believe she did what she thought was the best solution, (funny how you can justify what you do based on circumstances. It is called situational ethics. Situational ethics are not a good thing. A person needs to hold on to their beliefs wherever they are, and whenever they are there. It is hard, but that is the type of person we need in public office.) based on her interests first, and then on what would be the least evil for the city. She took it upon herself to operate outside the law…that is no different that Police Officers operating outside the law to enforce the law. It is just wrong no matter how you look at it.

    She has done wrong, she needs to admit to it so we can move on. Doing the right thing is seldom convenient, and hardly ever easy when the stakes are high.

    When you turn your head from violations of the law because you are “taking the lesser of two evils”, you actually give aid and comfort to the enemy because you are lowering yourself to their level. You allow them to say things like, “they are no better, they don’t follow the law, they do whatever they want…they are just like us; the only thing different is they believe a different way”.

    You may win a battle or two by looking the other way in situations such as this, but you lose the war.

    The only way that we win is if law and order are restored. The only way this city will ever be right is if the citizens stand up and take our government back. We can redesign this city in a way that makes it increasingly difficult for political and private interest groups to unduly influence the process. We can make the government better…we simply have to have the will to do it. Besides, if a people will remain complacent there is nothing you or I can do to stop nefarious influences from overtaking them…no matter what we do.

    Apolitical Observer, I will miss our exchanges, (to a degree anyway)…you are a worthy opponent in the debate….even though you don’t like to read and even if you are a little Myth guided.

    I offer you an invitation to lock arms with me and to invite as many people into the process as possible in an effort to once and for all put these issues to rest and restore order and discipline in our city government. We can make a difference is we band together and force reform. Thanks for taking the time to debate me, as many others simply read and withdraw from the debate.

    BTW, the only time you offended me was when you were offensive. Your disagreement with me is not offensive to me…just because I am strong in my belief and it shows though in my responses is not an indication of offense. I have actually enjoyed our interactions and was glad you were there. I look forward to future exchanges with you on other topics.

    Butch Huber

  15. Farewell Tour

    I am only here to disagree with one thing. I do like to read! I finished the entire Travis McGee series this summer. I highly recommend these fine classic mysteries (as opposed to myths).

    I won’t respond to anything else, as promised. Obviously if you think you are aware of illegal activity that is the domain of legal authorities and not for my speculation. You know where I stand, on this and other things, and where we do agree, for example small government, I’m always willing to work together.

    This site really is addictive, diatribes and all.

  16. Sonny Griffin

    Dear Butch Huber, Bobby Franklin and Apolitical Observer,

    I have read all your posts in detail and I want to say that I am very impressed by the intelligence and zeal that all of you exhibit. I can also tell that you want a better government than we currently have.

    However, as all of you know, good government only exists when those that are governed participate in the process. I do not think that most of our current officials want or appreciate our participation other than our vote.

    I think all of you “walk the walk” in your own way. Please continue to do so and tell our officials publicly what you think they are doing wrong and what they are doing right. Our ability to do that has been and is being paid for by the blood of many patriots.
    Unfortunately, most of us don’t honor those patriots by exercising the rights that they have given us.

    God bless all of you. Without you, we would be truly lost.

    Sonny Griffin

  17. raytears


  18. Bobby Franklin

    Mr. Huber, you asked me several questions that I will attempt to answer:

    I believe that the main purpose of government is to provide those things that individuals cannot provide for themselves – crime protection and safety being the most important. Safety and security trumps amenity in my priority list. Amenities for the taxpayers trump amenities for the hired help. Don’t get me wrong, I love amenities, but you asked me what I thought the City’s priority list should be.

    Mt. Juliet has a very low crime rate and not by accident. The Police are very good here and have paid special attention to Providence Marketplace. It would be terrible if Wilson County’s first regional shopping center became infested with crime and gang activity. The City Commission has funded the Police Department adequately – half the entire budget is spent on the Police Department. The Police do much more than patrol. They have several effective citizen outreach programs including a Handgun Permit Class every two weeks. I think the City Commission has the first priority right – Law and Order.

    My second priority is safety. The City’s main role here, in my opinion, is to provide safe streets. Fire Protection is provided by the County and West Wilson County residents pay for this service through their property tax. The City needs to ensure that the road network is adequate for the wave of growth expected in the next 20 to 30 years. The City is struggling on this. Our Major Thoroughfare Plan has changed very little since 1995. It identified and addressed the north / south travel problem between I-40 and Lebanon Road and recommended three solutions – a Western Connector to I-40 at Central Pike, an Eastern Connector to I-40 at Beckwith Road, and the widening of Mt. Juliet Road to 5 lanes. In 2001 none of the Major Thoroughfare Plan had been started.

    Mayor Kevin Mack appointed two committees to make priority recommendations to the City Commission in 2001. One Committee dealt with short term solutions, the other made long term recommendations. The Commission ultimately prioritized the projects to widen Mt. Juliet Road first, Interchange and Eastern Connector second, and to improve existing roads west of Mt. Juliet to a Central Pike Interchange. The City has at least started half of those projects to date. The obvious problem has been lack of funding.

    Next to Police Protection and Adequate Roads my next priority is Greenways and Parks. Since 2001 the City has adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, a Master Greenway Plan, and the Town Center Overlay District. Bike lanes were constructed with the improvement of Mt. Juliet Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road. Sidewalks were recently constructed from Mt. Juliet Road to Charlie Daniels Park. The City has acquired a ROW lease from Nashville Eastern Railroad to build a Greenway from S. Greenhill Road to Mt. Juliet Road between the railroad tracks and West Division. The City has asked for a State Enhancement Grant to build it. I was told that TDOT recommended the project to the Governor.

    The City Commission voted to prioritize linear parks and greenways and work to construct those projects in the two districts presently without parks ( 2 & 3 ). I am not aware that the Commission has ever voted to change that policy even though they are now appointing a committee to study placing another park in District 1.

    Last on my priority list would be a new City Hall. It is true that the employees are cramped and will eventually outgrow the current space. The problem is that the public really benefits the least from this. Could you imagine sitting in one lane traffic inching along past a state-of-the art City Hall Complex? There are many ways to put off the actual construction and still plan ahead for the need.

    There you have my priority list – 1) Police 2) Roads 3) Greenways and Parks, and 4) a new City Hall. Safety trumps amenity, public amenity before employee amenity.

    You also asked me what I envisioned Mt. Juliet to look like in 20 years. Our current density is about 1000 people per square mile ( city is 20 sq miles X 1000 = 20,000 people). The total growth area is 64 square miles. That would put us at 64,000 someday if the current density continues. How fast will we get there? If we keep adding 1500 people per year we should be the size of Franklin in 20 more years ( 50,000 ).

    If the City Commission increases the overall average density by approving more multi-family we could grow faster and larger. I doubt that the current Commission would do that but future ones might.

    One last thing – the cost of building roads has skyrocketed in the last 5 years. In 2001 five lane highways cost about 1 million per mile. In 2007 it cost 2.6 million per mile. The cost of steel, fuel, and labor continue to drive costs higher. I had advised the Commission that it was cheaper to borrow the money than to save up and build roads. The City can borrow at 3.5 to 4 percent. Road projects have been going up 15 to 20 percent a year! Do the math.

    It also makes no sense building any of the Major Thoroughfares to less than 5 lanes.

    I hope this helps.

  19. Butch Huber


    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Perhaps you will take a little more time and educate me on parks. As you probably know by now, I am not for spending tax money on parks. It isn’t because I am mean, or that I don’t like parks, or any ugly thing. It is just that our nation needs to become a nation of activists, as well as philanthropists. I think we need to adopt a new philosophy in this country through which we become more “able” to do things for ourselves and less dependent on government. That having been said, I am willing to accept more information and differing opinions on the matter. What exactly are you talking about when you say “linear park”? Exactly how much money are we talking about? Where does it come from? Who pays continuing costs? I would like to be informed and I am sure others would like to hear these answers as well.

    I just hope that others are willing to consider my position with an open mind as well.

    Butch Huber

  20. Pingback: September, 2007 Archive « Right Minded Online

  21. Pingback: Don’t buy this lemon « Right Minded Online

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