From cleanliness to crowds: Nashville appoints director of nightlife to tackle downtown issues

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Posted at 3:56 PM, Dec 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 21:32:57-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — From the street vendors to the trash, some people who live and work in downtown Nashville have had enough.

But they're hoping a new position in the Mayor's office can help.

Mayor John Cooper announced the role of the Metro Director of Nightlife.

"My position will be to act as a liaison between those individuals who either have concerns or want to do business with Metro government."

Benton McDonough might be new in the role as the director of the Metro Nightlife but he's not new to Nashville. McDonough was born and raised in Music City and is also the executive director of the Metro Beer Permit Board.

He believes his experience will help in this role and others agree.

Carren Downey works security downtown and she says traffic and homelessness are the big issues she sees every night.

"I've heard that they're gonna start opening this all the way up on the weekends instead of just stopping at Second Avenue. So then that gives us more security from the Metro Police than it would be from just Second Avenue because we do have a lot of violence."

Downey is pleased to hear someone with the city will help tackle issues like trash, traffic, street vendors and party bus regulations.

"I think it's a good idea because we need some people that can regulate this more."

A lot of other major cities have directors of nightlife.

"We don't want Nashville to become a victim of its own success," said McDonough. "And so we really do want you to be able to support those businesses and make sure that that they're happy and their customers are happy down here as well."

McDonough is the first in the city to hold the new title.

"I just ask people to give this a chance and give it time to work because I think we’ll make a really big difference, and we need everyone's help Nashville that the best city that it can be."

The position already has the support of many organizations representing businesses and people in the industry.

"I think it's terrific. I think it's a really good first step. I mean time will tell to see what kind of authority and flavor this takes. But I think it's a really good opportunity," said Leesa LeClaire.

LeClaire is the president and CEO of the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association. She says this new role is a great start.

"I think that it really is key to keeping Nashville, Nashville. Those small businesses, the honky tonks, it's all part of it. The fun, it's all part of it. Just with a little bit of tweaking and parameters. We got this."

McDonough say he is conducting a listening tour with business owners, local musicians, bartenders and residents.

If residents or businesses downtown want to send McDonough a concern, they can email him at

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