Green Space Questionnaire

Candidate: Susannah Macmillan

1. Where would you rank the preservation of green space in Brentwood compared to other priorities facing the City?

Preservation of green space is a top priority which is why I support our one-home-per-acre density zoning, along with supporting our fire and police departments, protecting our infrastructure, and supporting our schools.

2.  As a City Commissioner, please outline your view on the role you believe the City should play in the acquisition of park land or dedicated green space in our community. Please address whether you feel the city should be active in the acquisition of such types of land or should only address requests or offers made by developers.

       As a City Commissioner, my role is to support projects that help maintain our city’s unique character.  Each potential opportunity for the city to expand our park land and dedicated green space is unique and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine how additional park land and/or green space would complement our current system and to work with property owners that have a desire to keep their property green. 

3.  Do you feel like Brentwood has enough park land and green space or would you like to see more added?

       Brentwood has done a great job of planning for parks and green space.  In fact, according to the 2016 NRPA (National Recreation and Park Association) Field Report, in terms of acreage per resident nationally and compared to Franklin:

                                                      Brentwood - 24 acres per 1,000 residents

                                                      Franklin – 10 acres per 1,000 residents

                                                      National Average – 6 acres per 1,000 residents

     Brentwood has four times the national average of acres per 1,000 residents and it is important that we strive to maintain this very unique asset as we approach the build out of our city.

4.  Surrounding communities like Nashville and Franklin have adopted Open Space Master Plans. Nashville is in the process of revising their original Plan. Open Space Master plans include such things as an inventory of the City’s remaining open space; specific criteria to guide the City in evaluating parcels being considered for open space acquisition; defined measurements for the assessment of the costs and benefits of acquiring open space; and funding strategies for the Plan’s implementation. The city has indicated there are approximately 27 tracts greater than 25 acres are still left as undeveloped or significantly underdeveloped in Brentwood totaling about 6,500 acres. Would you support the commissioning of such a study for the City of Brentwood?

Independent and objective information performed by outside experts can provide valuable information to help us better plan for the future of Brentwood.  In May 2018, Brentwood received the Pedestrian Connectivity Study with recommendations to help with our east-west bike and pedestrian connectivity issues which is a good start to planning and to address any challenges with connecting the east and west sides of the city.  We also have traffic congestion that is created by commuters entering and leaving our city during rush hour(s) on Concord Road and Moores Lane as they access I65, which is increasing our residents’ commute time to get from one side of the city to the other.  A study to help design a Master Plan for addressing the east-west divide of the city for commuter, bike, and pedestrian traffic, along with connecting more of our green spaces and parks, would be helpful.

5:             Objective 1.C.4 of the Brentwood 2030 plan is to preserve the visual character of the Cal Turner property and the City is to explore tools (such as purchase of land) to preserve visible open space of the property should development of the property be proposed. 

a)       Would you be in favor of purchasing the Turner property if it were to come on the market?   And what is your vision of the property if the City was able to make the purchase?

 I, like most in Brentwood, love the scenic vista the Turner farm provides all of us and would hate to see it change.  Mr. Turner has the right to develop the property as long as it meets our planning codes.  The Turner property is a very valuable tract of land in the heart of the city and, in order to decide if it makes strategic and financial sense for the city, we would need to know the purchase price of the property, how it would be financed, and what the use will be. 

If the city does decide to purchase the Turner property, then like the survey sent to residents for their input on how to best use the money given to the John P. Holt library; we would need to poll the Brentwood residents to see what their vision for the land would be.

If the city were to finance the purchase of the Turner Property, even at a discount for the price of what the Oman Property sold for, then this would be an increase of approximately 40% in our property tax rate to cover the debt service. I would recommend this decision go to a referendum, for citizens to decide.

b)       Would you be willing to support the increase of taxes to purchase all or a significant portion of the Turner Property, or to support a bond initiative for the purchase of the Turner property in order to preserve green space beyond that of publicly visible open space?

              Again, the Turner property is a very valuable tract of private property in the heart of the city and, in order to decide if it makes strategic and financial sense for the city, we would need to know the purchase price of the property, how it would be

financed, and what the use will be.  This city has an Adequate Facilities Tax Fund (AFT) that was used in the initial purchase of the land that is now Smith Park.  Unfortunately, the AFT fund was depleted when the city agreed to donate $2.4 million for the financing cost of the new STEM building on the Brentwood Middle/High campus. We have to make sure our county develops a long-term funding strategy to funds our schools so that we are not choosing between parks/green space and schools.

6. What is your view of the priority of bicycling/walking infrastructure implementation so that our community becomes more “walkable and bicycle friendly” in the future? Would you be willing to vote for increasing the City of Brentwood’s property taxes, by a small amount to fund new trial development, sidewalk improvements and an East-West connector across I-65?

Creating a walkable and bicycle friendly city is very important for our future and we need to develop a strategy of connecting the various parks and trails across the city so the residents can truly choose different modes of transportation to get from point A to Point B, and to have plenty of miles for walking/biking for exercise and recreation.  We have I65 and two railroad crossings dividing the city so any connections would be a major undertaking requiring approvals from TDOT and CSX and should be addressed in a comprehensive plan. The green space study can help identify possible solutions for our existing and future connectivity.  The study can also guide us in future developments where we incorporate bike paths while maintaining our one-acre density.   Based on the options available, a tax increase is NOT required to accomplish the connectivity and I am opposed to a tax increase.

At the City Commissioner informational meeting on March 21, 2019 during discussions of the widening of Sunset road, the city is already planning for a multiuse trail on the west side of Sunset and the future widening of Ragsdale. This will create a complete loop from Owl Creek Park to Smith Park utilizing Concord, Sunset, Ragsdale and Split Log roads. 

7.  What city (besides Brentwood) do you admire for their healthy outdoor living infrastructure and what characteristic(s) would you like to see more of in Brentwood?

I have traveled to many different cities across our great nation and abroad and have found Brentwood to be the most desirable place to call home, that is why I chose Brentwood.  Our existing athletic fields, green space, parks, and trail system are very good.  That doesn’t mean we should stop, we should continue to grow and improve them in a fiscally responsible manner.  The balanced approach has served the resident well.