by Steven Hale
At the North Nashville Political Forum last night, Metro Council member Erica Gilmore, and other community activists, unveiled a plan they say would keep members of that community from being completely left out of the potential benefits of Mayor Karl Dean's proposed bus rapid transit project.
Pierce Greenberg was there for The City Paper:
“We want to see something that’s an economic driver in our area as well,” Gilmore told The City Paper. “Whether it’s employing people through this community benefit agreement or whether it’s putting a [BRT] stop over there, it’s about revitalizing our area. That’s what we are expecting at this point, and it’s not negotiable.”
Specifically, the agreement would require construction companies to hire a set percentage of employees from low-income zip codes and another percentage of employees with employment barriers like people who are homeless, single parents, veterans and ex-offenders.
“We are pro-transit upgrades. We are in favor of the BRT but we want it to be equitable,” said Tonya Sherrell, a community activist. “We want to see people who have not had opportunities in the past ... to participate in these large scale projects [and] to benefit from this.”
The mayor's office has given the indication that they're not particularly open to the idea of entertaining changes to the proposed route for the $136 million BRT project — along the East-West corridor from Five Points in East Nashville to West End outside the 440 loop — but the issue won't go away. Residents along Charlotte Avenue have suggested their street might make more sense for the project, and state Rep. Brenda Gilmore told our friends down the street last week that a lawsuit could be possible if North Nashville is left out of the project.