The Tennessean article “‘Tipping point’: Nashville leaders, businesses spar over Lower Broadway’s future” was well written, but I feel that although they are an abomination in my view, the pedal taverns and party wagons are a symptom rather than the root cause of the problems on Broadway and surrounding streets.
When I sold my building at 400 Broadway in December 2012 the neighborhood was already too loud and raucous for me to be able to function there anymore. It is even worse today.
I opened my business January 1970 at 111 4th Ave., North, bought the building at 410 Broadway at the beginning of 1976, and moved to 400 Broadway in mid 1993. I served for many years on the board for the district and I’ve had decades observing changes in the neighborhood. When I was involved with the district we advocated for sound control ordinances and I advocated for public restrooms.
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Downtown has changed and not for the better
In my opinion, the pivotal point that has led to the situation we have today was when the city acquiesced to the demands of the management of Margaritaville to permit them to have wide open windows which could blast sound out onto the street.
Once they had a permit to do this it opened the doors for everyone else to have open windows and rooftop bars. This quickly resulted in greatly increased noise.
Previously all clubs had their doors and windows shut and did not blast sound on the street which permitted much greater variety of music from one club to another in a quieter neighborhood.
When music is blasted out onto the streets the sound will bleed into other buildings resulting in an escalating sound war in which finally the sound in each club is so loud that the sound pressure pushing out prevents anything from being heard from outside, but the volume inside is so loud that it would not pass safety standards for OSHA in any industrial setting.
People who work in that environment will soon lose their high-end hearing and suffer serious deafness over time. It is certainly not an environment conducive to mental or physical health. It results in bars playing music which does not sound good until the customer has consumed not less than six beers. It also results in management firing bands which do not play music that will sell at least six beers per customer.
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Getting to the deeper issue downtown
As obnoxious as they are, banning pedal bars and party wagons will not change this situation. The bars and clubs are already filled to capacity and are not permitted to sell alcohol on the street. If closed windows and sound control were mandated and open carry of alcoholic drinks was prohibited on the street, the bars and clubs would still be occupied at full capacity and would continue to be profitable.
To preserve the health of our citizens and visitors and continue the viability of the neighborhood we need to mandate that businesses keep their impact within the walls of their own establishments and do not blast sound which impinges on their neighbors.
I agree that there is a stench of urine, fecal, and booze in the downtown entertainment district which is difficult to get 100% under control but there is something that can be done which would certainly improve it significantly.
While serving on the district board for over a decade I advocated that we needed public restrooms in the district, but the Public Works department and property owners were adamantly opposed saying that any such facilities would be taken over and trashed by the homeless.
I pointed out that the alternative without public restrooms was that the same activities would then be done in the alleys and in the stairwells of the public parking garages, but the restrooms could have restroom attendants to make sure that they were properly maintained.
Most of the bars and clubs in the neighborhood have the bare minimum code required restroom capacity to serve their own clients and do not let outsiders in to use these facilities.
Bridgestone Arena, Ascend Amphitheater and Nissan Stadium all have significant restroom facility capacity, however, they serve large quantities of beverages which is manageable while clients are in their facility. However, after consuming large quantities of beverages in the facility, their kidneys are working overtime and before they can get in their car and drive home they need to relieve themselves, but there are no facilities in which to do so.
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The stench of urine is not due to the population of homeless people. It is a direct result of serving huge quantities of beverages to paying customers who have no place to relieve themselves after they leave the entertainment facilities and before they drive home.
It is also worth noting that the party buses, pedal bars, and party wagons have no restrooms but they serve large quantities of beverages. Their clients have nowhere to relieve themselves in an approved facility.
Many Nashville residents are avoiding going to the entertainment district due to noise, congestion, lack of parking, and fear that the neighborhood is spinning out of control.
Some businesses such as Pinnacle Bank are leaving their downtown locations for the same reasons while other businesses considering locating in Nashville are choosing not to locate in this part of the city.
The proposals I have submitted are practical, legal, and essential if we wish for the district to proper and to be an asset to our city. for the long term foreseeable future
George Gruhn is owner of Gruhn Guitars.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Lower Broadway’s life of the party mentality results in alienates rest of Nashville | OpinionInternet Explorer Channel Network