Community leaders in the Bordeaux area in northwest Davidson County say they exercised their “nuclear option” on Thursday by cleaning up a blighted shopping center on Clarksville Highway, even though it meant entering onto private property.
The publicity stunt — attended by a wide array of political candidates — also sent the message that Bordeaux wants more investment from Metro and the private sector.
“The community has spoken: We want a mixed-use community, good living, affordable housing along with upscale,” said Metro Councilman DeCosta Hastings, whose District 2 includes the shopping center. “We no longer want to be the downtrodden community; we want to be the community we can all be proud of.”
Hastings and the group set their eyes on a light pole that fell more than a year ago in the center of the cracked and potholed parking lot, shattering the glass of one of its bulbs.
With Hastings gripping part of the pole, fellow Metro Councilman Scott Davis (also running for a state House seat) readied a cordless saw.
“See what happens when this community works together!?” he called out before letting it rip.
It took about 10 minutes to dice up the metal pole and load it onto a volunteer’s pickup truck trailer.
Asked about the legality of the move, Hastings said there is “a legal question … because this is private property.”
“Hopefully the owner comes out and will do something about this,” Hastings said. “But it’s been over a year, there are power lines that are there, people have been hurt, and we can’t allow anybody else to be hurt anymore.”
Another event organizer who is running for the Council District 1 seat, Jonathan Hall, said efforts were made to reach the property owner.
“Our nuclear option became Codes, multiple reports … we remove it and we send him a bill for it,” he said.
“We always appreciate codes violations being fixed,” said Codes spokesman Sean Braisted. “We can’t encourage people to go onto private property to do it, though.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation took ownership of small strips of the property in February as part of a highway widening project, but a spokeswoman said the agency does not own the portion related to the light pole.
Bordeaux Seeks Investment ‘Parity’
The broader message — including from several of the political hopefuls who attended the event — was that historically black Bordeaux has been neglected for too long by private businesses, financial institutions and Metro itself.
“We cannot continue to claim to be the ‘It City’ when entire neighborhoods are struggling and struggling with a lack of parity,” Hall said.
“When you have a community that doesn’t have a vision, the vision is set for you,” said the Rev. Judy Cummings, who is facing off with Hall for District 1.
(Other District 1 candidates Sylvester Armor and Gwen Brown-Felder also appeared in the parking lot on Thursday. Ruby Baker rounds out the five-way race for that seat.)
Those who spoke before the dismantling of the light pole decried long-running corporate businesses that have fallen into disrepair in the Bordeaux area, while also speaking of the proud history of “black excellence” in the residential area, home to many civic leaders.
The group is working on a petition to demand more city investment in infrastructure in the area, as well as backing Davis’
recent council bill to create stronger enforcement of Metro rules intended to help minority and disadvantaged businesses.