Petition Seeks To Continue Fairgrounds Events 5-16-2011 - WSMV Channel 4

Petition Seeks To Continue Fairgrounds Events 5-16-2011

Reported By Nancy Amons
NASHVILLE, Tenn.
A race to save the Nashville fairgrounds is down to the wire. On Monday afternoon, fair supporters delivered petitions bearing thousands of signatures of people who want the right to vote on the issue.

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Boxes of petitions were delivered six minutes before the Metro Clerk's Office closed Monday. The Save My Fairgrounds group collected signatures until the last possible minute. The group doesn't know for sure how many it handed in.
"We have a tradition: over a million visitors a year visit the fairgrounds," said fairgrounds supporter Neil Chaffin. "We want to keep it like it is. The community wants to keep it."
The group needs about 15,700 signatures to win a spot on the Aug. 4 ballot. If the petition gets on the ballot, voters will decide whether the keep the fairgrounds and all its activities intact. If that passes, it would take a "super majority" of council members -- 27 -- to close the fairgrounds.
"We had 21 votes last time to save it. It would take a lot more work to get six other votes," said Chaffin.
The question is whether there are enough valid signatures. That's being challenged by a group called Neighbors for Progress, the group of fairgrounds neighbors who supported the mayor's efforts to close the fairgrounds. Some neighbors complained of noise from race cars.
"Obviously, I'd rather not see it on the ballot," said Colby Sledge of Neighbors for Progress.
Sledge speaks for the neighborhood association. On Monday, he announced his group has a lawyer who will monitor the process of verifying the signatures, determining whether they're all registered Davidson County voters. Attorney George Barrett said it's common for up to a quarter of the signatures to get thrown out.
"There's an average of 20 to 25 percent on referendums," Barrett said.
In the next step, the petitions will head to the Election Commission to be verified.
The Metro Fair Board in April voted to allow auto racing for two more years at the fairgrounds.



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