Over the past decade, I have been actively involved in the development and enforcement of the West Nashville Community Plan, which represents a community policy outline for development in West Nashville, including District 23. Following the principles and policies contained in the West Nashville Community Plan is the best strategy to save the Hillwood High School Property.
Hillwood High School opened in 1959; over the 60 year-span there have been about ten additions to the school. The Bellevue community lobbied hard for a high school of their own, urging that Hillwood High School move to Bellevue. After public hearings before the Metro School Board where Hillwood and West Meade neighbors spoke passionately to keep the high school on Davidson Road, the School Board in January 2017 approved the move out of the Hillwood/West Meade area to Bellevue. The site of the new school is the old Hope Park Church site (244 acres) located at 8001 Highway 70 south in Bellevue. The original estimate for the move was $90 million, but with a land purchase price of $10.2 million, estimates now top $100 million.
For the residents of Hillwood and West Meade, there is much concern about what happens to the school property once Hillwood High School closes. Currently, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) and School Board members do not have a specific plan for the property. However, over the last few years I have been working with the community, MNPS and the administration to keep the property for the best use for the community. I have obtained a commitment from MNPS leaders and Metro administration that the community will play a key role in deciding the best use of the property. I am committed to making sure that MNPS and the administration follow through on their word when the high school closes.
Additionally, in 2009 the West Nashville community began the process to update the West Nashville Community Plan. Having extensive knowledge of the Community Character Manual and community plans, I attended every meeting and provided input based on my knowledge of District 23.
A community plan is the key planning policy guide for decision-making regarding a community’s future. To achieve this, the West Nashville Community Plan applies the Community Character Manual Policies to every property in West Nashville. The Community Character Manual Policies are designed to coordinate the elements of development to ensure the intended character of an area is achieved. These policies are the standard by which development and future zone change requests are measured. Each area is first designated as a Transect – Suburban Transect, Urban Transect, Rural Transect, Center Transect, Downtown Transect or District Transect.
Anticipating the possibility that Hillwood High School would close, we made sure the West Nashville Community Plan specifically addressed Hillwood High School as an area that needed additional guidance as a Supplemental Policy. Hillwood High School is referenced as SPA 07-T3-C1-01. What that means is it is a Supplemental Policy Area in a suburban transect (T3) designated as West Nashville Civic (C1) Area 1. The West Nashville Community Plan expressly states:
It is the consensus of the community that this SPA remain dedicated to a public use and owned by the Metropolitan Government (Metro). Were the use as Hillwood High School to cease in whole or in part, all steps should be taken to ensure continued use of the land as a school. The preference is for an elementary school to serve the shifting demographic of the Hillwood and West Meade communities. However, other levels of education should be considered provided it meets the community’s need for an academically focused institution.
In the event neither MNPS nor its partners wishes to occupy all of the property, partial use of the property for a school should be considered.
All steps should be taken to ensure the remainder of the property can be considered for park and community use subject to review by the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation (MBPR). Consideration should be given for the way in which the property could benefit and complement the neighboring H.G. Hill Middle School use. Special care should be taken to ensure a park or community use is not overly burdensome to the surrounding neighborhood.
Finally, if neither MNPS, its partners, nor the MBPR wishes to use the Hillwood High School property in whole or in part, Metro should properly secure the buildings and hold them in reserve until such time as it is desired and possible to use as a school and/or a park and community center. Outdoor recreational areas and open space should be properly maintained and accessible to the community for its use. Demolition of the buildings, except in the case of renovation and improvement, is not desired. Sale of the property by Metro is strenuously discouraged.
As another safeguard, I have requested to re-purpose the Hillwood High School building and athletic field for use as a park, library or community center in case MNPS decides not to utilize it for a school purpose. The re-purpose request was recorded in the Capital Improvement Budget under CIB request 19DS0140; it will stay in CIB unless removed by the next Council. Please see my May 4, 2019 newsletter https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/TNNASH/bulletins/2417f1a?fbclid=IwAR3ExTM-a8V7I-LcFY2vRw1yAeFiQzEqjQppgHOtKyyOwvugWWU4zd-rEWA.
Therefore, with the assurance from MNPS and the administration, along with the Special Policy provision in the West Nashville Community Plan and my re-purpose CIB request, I am committed to continue making sure that the Hillwood High School property be retained for the best use for the community - a school and/or park and community center with outdoor recreational areas and open space accessible for community use.
In order for me to keep my commitment, I need your support and your vote to re-elect me in the upcoming runoff election. Early voting begins on August 23 through September 7. The runoff Election Day is September 12. VOTE Mina For Council, https://www.minaforcouncil.com