Neighbors in east Nashville are fighting to keep the city from tearing down a fire hall with a lot of history. The city says the building isn’t safe, but one group says it needs more time to fix it.
A fire allegedly set by a homeless man two years ago gutted the Gallatin Pike fire hall, and the city says it’s time to tear it down. “And my folks are just really tired of it being an eyesore for the past 2 1/2 years,” said Metro Councilman Scott Davis. But, Davis said most neighbors don’t want the building demolished. “It’s historic. It’s one of our first firehalls in the city of Nashville,” he said. “Instead of tearing it down, turn it into something positive,” said neighbor Bryan Hurd.
However, that progress is tied up in court. Walmart gained control of the property through rezoning in 2007, but two years later it turned the property over to a nonprofit, North Edgefield Organized Neighbors – or NEON, run by former Councilwoman Pam Murray.
Murray told Channel 4 News in 2011 the organization was turning it into a family arts center. “We’re going to do a community choir. We are going to do art. We are going to do dance, music. We’re going to have tutoring,” Murray said at the time. Then came the fire, after which the codes department ordered demolition. At the same time, Walmart went to court, regaining control of the property.
Still, NEON is suing to get the building back and stop demolition. NEON’s suit claims it still plans to raise money and restore the fire hall. Davis said he’s spoken with Walmart, and leaders are willing to work with a nonprofit for repairs, but only one that’s financially stable and has insurance. He said that doesn’t include NEON. “We just need the building to be in somebody’s hand. Preferably, Walmart, because of the liability issues for Walmart – if somebody with no insurance owns that building,” Davis said. Channel 4 was not able to reach Murray for comment on this story.
At this point, there is no date set for demolition of the fire hall. It will likely depend on the judge’s response to the most recent lawsuit from NEON.
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