A Nashville developer has filed an ethics complaint against Metro officials for allegedly ignoring his request for more information about the process used to choose a developer for Fort Negley Park.
In May, Mayor Megan Barry chose the Cloud Hill Partnership as the developer for the historic site, which includes Greer Stadium, although there is still no formal agreement. Bert Mathews, whose real estate firm created the Cloud Hill team, held a fundraiser for Barry when she was running for mayor.
Devinder Singh Sandhu, who lost out to Cloud Hill in the bidding process, previously wrote a letter to city procurement officials protesting the process, saying it “was not equitable to all submitters and information required to make a proper presentation was not complete” and that there was a “lack of transparency.”
In his ethics complaint Monday, Sandhu noted that he has “requested answers to questions, documents, requests for meetings and clarification.”
The Procurement Appeals Board was set to consider Sandhu’s case Wednesday, but he sent the board a letter late Tuesday saying he had decided to dismiss his appeal.
“We are forced to take this action because you, the Metro Procurement Office and Metro Finance Department established the August 30, 2017 hearing date unilaterally and without your offices providing us much requested documentation under the Freedom of Information Act,” he said in his letter Tuesday. “We cannot properly prepare for the hearing without these critical documents. You have done all this against our repeated objections as evidenced by the numerous letters and emails to you.”
Sandhu requested a meeting to discuss the matter further. “However, I will not be forced to defend my appeal without rightfully requested documents under the FOIA,” he wrote.
Sean Braisted, spokesman for Mayor Barry, issued a statement about Monday’s ethics complaint saying, “This would appear to be the latest in Mr. Sandhu’s efforts to throw anything and everything against the wall in the hopes that something will stick. From what I can tell, there was no actual ethics complaint in the ethics complaint, but Metro will continue to hear his alleged grievances in the appropriate way and format.”
Barry’s plans to redevelop Fort Negley Park have drawn widespread opposition from Nashvillians who want the historic Metro-owned site to be protected from extensive development plans. Built during Union occupation of Nashville during the Civil War, Fort Negley was constructed with the forced labor of slaves and free blacks.
The Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team played at Greer Stadium on the site from the early 1970s through the end of the 2014 season. The team then moved to a new stadium north of downtown.
Cloud Hill’s proposal involves building affordable housing, shops and restaurants and creative spaces for artists. Metro would retain ownership, with Cloud Hill investing private funds and sharing revenue.
The plan pitched by Sandhu for what would be called Nashville Adventure Park also included affordable housing, as well as senior living, luxury apartments, a hotel, artisan stores and studios, an indoor sports complex and a park with a lake and small stream.
Sandhu’s ethics complaint Monday was addressed to numerous Metro procurement and finance officials, as well as Metro councilman Colby Sledge.
In a letter to his fellow councilmen in May in which he addressed media reports, Sledge said there was nothing “secret” about the procurement process and that there “has been an intentional, community-led planning process for the future use/redevelopment of the site.”
WSMV Channel 4 reported that Sledge faced questions about having a conflict of interest because he until recently worked for the public relations firm managing the Cloud Hill account. Sledge said he did not work on the account.