Cooper unveils capital spending plan; includes new high school in Bellevue, transportation upgrades

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 23:00:21-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper has unveiled details of his $474.6 million capital spending plan (CSP) -- two-thirds of which would go towards the city’s education and transportation needs.

The mayor's office released details of the plan on Friday, saying it includes Nashville’s "largest-ever investment for schools and advances transportation improvements without additional tax increases."

“We are a growing city with growing needs,” Mayor Cooper said. “This plan helps us catch up on maintenance needs while prioritizing our students’ schools more than ever before. These critical investments in our city’s future are possible because we’re now financially stable as a city for the first time in years.”

Cooper said the plan includes a record $191 million for education to build the new Hillwood High School in Bellevue, while also funding repairs and expansions across Davidson County -- that includes making HVAC upgrades, which the mayor’s office said are “even more critical” amid the pandemic.

The new high school on the 274-acre former Hope Park Church site will serve 1,600 students in a three-story building, with “technology-rich classrooms and a new sports complex.”

The mayor’s office said the new school will replace the current building, which is more than 60 years old and “ranks among Metro Schools’ lowest for facility quality.” The new school will serve students across 34 of Nashville’s 35 Council districts.

“The long-delayed high school is a project of huge importance to my constituents and families throughout Nashville,” said Metro Councilmember Dave Rosenberg. “No capital spending plan in our city’s history has provided this much for our schools, nor has a plan been so focused on education. I’m grateful to Mayor Cooper for his desire to invest in the public schools that serve every corner of Nashville.”

The plan also includes a $4.2 million investment toward phase one of a new Cane Ridge Middle School. The new 600-student school would relieve pressure at Antioch Middle, which Cooper said is operating at 121% capacity.

The new Cane Ridge Middle School would also be a future home to students from Eagle View and Cane Ridge elementary schools.

Under the plan, Cane Ridge High School would also get $18.8 million for a 24-classroom expansion. Without that expansion, Metro said the school’s capacity, which is now at 104%, could increase to 132% by 2026.

Other parts of the capital spending plan include transportation: 2,500 feet of new sidewalk in Metro Nashville, 16 new bus shelters and more than $2 million for “traffic calming projects” in 24 neighborhoods. Additionally, $7.5 million is benchmarked on projects meant to “shorten commutes on Nashville’s busiest roads.” The city says this plan also includes “life-saving improvements to some of Nashville’s most dangerous pedestrian crossings.”

Money is also allocated to repair for issues like mitigating stormwater flooding in neighborhoods and trucks to fight fires in high-rise structures.

Notably, $6.5 million is earmarked for upgrades to the city’s emergency radio system, with the city’s press release saying “The Christmas Day bombing demonstrated the critical nature of this system.”

Police and Fire station upgrades are also part of the 2021 plan, including money for a new police precinct in the Antioch community as well as $14 million to reopen Fire Station #2 in downtown Nashville, which was closed in 2019.

Other notable spending categories include:

  • $17 million to greenways and bikeways
  • $2 million to affordable housing projects
  • $2 million in “sustainability innovation,” including retrofits to reduce carbon emission and converting streetlights to LED lighting.