Nashville Welcomes New Growth and Community Voices
After Mayor Megan Barry was sworn into office on September 25, she got to work immediately, according to Lonnell Matthews, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood and Community Engagement. Matthews reports that Mayor Barry intends to carefully scrutinize the city’s programs to improve sidewalks, livability, ensure affordable housing, reduce the city’s rate of youth violence and implement funds efficiently among many, many other efforts.
In other words, “We’re flying the plane while building the engine,” Matthews said, speaking to an audience of about 50 attendees at the Alliance for Green Hills’ first-ever annual meeting.
Attending and participating in the meeting were a number of elected public officials, including State Senator Steve Dickerson, State Representative John Ray Clemons, Metro Council Members Jim Shulman, Russ Pulley, Mina Johnson and Burkley Allen. Metro School Board member Mary Pierce provided an update on the plans for renovating Hillsboro High School.
During the meeting, Matthews outlined efforts of the administration, many of which align with Alliance goals. The Alliance, above all, aims to create a culture of collaboration in Green Hills by bringing together residents, business-owners, developers and thought-leaders. The organization also plans to advocate for specific improvements such as sidewalks, greenspaces and aligned traffic lights.
Matthews insisted that the Mayor’s administration is aware of the importance of better transit options for Nashville. While the city’s growth has been incredible, he says, it will slow down if people can’t move from place to place efficiently.
Matthews’ participation in the Alliance for Green Hills event exemplifies the type of conversations that need to happen for cities to create smart growth strategies. These types of conversations are happening around Southern Land Company projects across the country. The company’s development in downtown Plano, Texas, for example, is the result of a strong public-private partnership. Currently, Southern Land Company is working with the city of Boulder to bring the market quality housing that meets the city’s high sustainability and community improvement goals.
In Nashville, the Alliance for Green Hills is facilitating the conversation around development in a new way. With buy-in from public officials, private business leaders and neighbors, the city can grow in a way that benefits everyone at the table.