News | November 22, 2016

Neighbors fight to protect Paradise Ridge Community Center near Nashville

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry added her support to a pair of neighborhoods fighting proposals to construct massive natural-gas compressors near their homes, parks and community centers.

The mayor had hinted her support for some time to neighbors in Joelton, but with a news conference at their Paradise Ridge Community Center, she firmly and officially supported their efforts to keep the neighborhood air clean.

“Air quality is a public health concern,” said SELC attorney Anne Passino, who attended the news conference. “Those with asthma, especially kids, suffer real impacts when air quality is compromised.”

SELC is representing a group of neighbors who have formed a coalition called “Concerned Citizens for a Safe Environment” to challenge the compressor’s proposed location. Pipeline company Kinder Morgan purchased property bordering the community center, and it plans to build a compressor there.

Nashville has passed an ordinance that would use zoning rules to block gas compressors near neighborhoods, parks and community centers. But the gas companies oppose those rules, and are lobbying state officials to reject them.

The proposed Joelton compressor would be 60,000 horsepower, one of the largest in the south. It would speed natural gas along existing pipes to the Gulf of Mexico for export. That means, as neighbors point out, the company gets the profits while they get the pollution.

Jennifer Mayo, a Joelton mother of three, says some in the community have been under the wrong impression this project will bring natural gas to their homes.

“The way it’s been told and twisted is this is about the greater good of the community, and we should be good neighbors,” she said. “It just makes people think this is for us, and it is not. They are using us to make a profit.”

Gary Moore, a retired Nashville firefighter who served the city three decades, said he and others picked Joelton as a home because of the clean air and environment.

“There are other options where they could put it where there are nothing but cow pastures and interstate,” he said. “That is where they should move it.”

Moore dropped 30 pounds on his daily walks through the community center’s trails. But he says with his asthma, those walks will have to end if the compressor is built.

Others worry that the compressor emissions will harm the health of the kids who use the center after school.

“You can’t ask those kids to come here,” said Norma Harvison, a lifelong Joelton resident. “It’s not a good situation.”

Harvison and her late husband were instrumental in getting the Paradise Ridge Community Center built. In fact, the gymnasium bears her husband’s name. She worries all that work will be for nothing if the compressor comes.

“It is going to be devastating to this community,” she said.

SELC joined Joelton residents and those living near the proposed Cane Ridge compressor station at a public hearing earlier this month. All but one of the speakers told state officials they should support Nashville’s clean-air zoning ordinance.

The only person who spoke against Nashville’s ordinance was a lawyer for the gas company.

The Tennessee Air Pollution Control Board could make a decision about the ordinance as early as December.