Future Of Nashville Jail, Police Headquarters Move In Question

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jun 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:35:54-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn - The fate of the mayor's plan to move the jail and police headquarters out of downtown is now seriously in question after hundreds swarmed last night's Metro Council meeting.

Last night, Council Member Duane Dominy announced he was filing an amendment to pull the jail from the Capital Improvement Budget.

"If this is the largest investment in public safety across our city, we ought to have that discussion across the county of how we want to handle that," Dominy said. "I'm not opposed necessarily to moving the jail. I'm not opposed to consolidating things and putting them where they should be. The concern is we need to make sure that is the right place to put them."

Other council members from across the city quickly announced their support.

"Our role on Metro Council is to listen to the community," said At-Large Council Member Megan Barry. "We heard loud and clear from them last night."

Barry, a mayoral candidate, signed on as a co-sponsor of the amendment to remove the jail from the budget.

Until then, she had not taken a public position on the project.

"We heard from so many members in the southeast community last night that they want a lot more discussion before a jail ends up in their neighborhood and I am supporting that amendment with Duane to make that happen," she said.

As of Wednesday, that amendment did not include removing the proposed police headquarters from the budget.

The proposed Jefferson Street site is inside Council Member Erica Gilmore's district.

Gilmore recently announced she is running for an At-Large council seat.

Until Tuesday night, she had publicly been a supporter of the project, but said because of the outcry she couldn't vote for it anymore.

"I feel it needs more discussion," she said. "It needs more vetting and I think just out of respect I owe that to the community."

There is still plenty of support from council members for both projects, including At-Large Council Member Jerry Maynard, who has been working to revitalize the Jefferson Street area for years.

"I still believe that Jefferson Street is the right place for the headquarters, but if we have to wait until the next mayor to make that decision then that's just the facts and that's what we have to live with," he said by phone.

Council members expect the police headquarters to be included in the amendment by the final vote, Tuesday, June 9.

It's unclear if there is enough support from council members to get the projects pulled, but a week is a very long time in politics.

Sheriff Daron Hall released a statement Tuesday night saying, "As I have said from the start, doing nothing is not an option and supporting an amendment to remove this project from the Capital Improvement Budget would create a liability for the city. The experts have recommended, and I agree, that relocating our operations to the existing correctional property on Harding Place is the best move for Nashville. It is the most cost efficient option, and will increase public safety for all of us. I will continue to work with the council to move this project forward."

Council Member Phil Claiborne from Donelson has also filed an amendment to remove the downtown flood protection system from the budget.

He said right now he believes he has the votes to keep it out.

Amendments to the budget will be debated and voted on June 9. That night is the final vote on the budget.