Bible Park foes rally as key dates approach
By MICHELLE WILLARD, Post Staff Writer – March 30, 2008
“They make it sound like it’s a done deal, but it’s not,” event organizer John L. Batey told the more than 200 strong crowd who assembled on the cold and gray Saturday morning.
“We’re here to get you involved,” Batey said, adding even his spokespig Wilbur from cover of “Charlotte’s Web” has gotten involved in the grassroots movement.
The key up-coming meetings on the Bible Park proposal are:
• The Industrial Development Board will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 2 at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.
• Rutherford County’s Future Development Committee meets at 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon, April 3 at the Historic Rutherford County Courthouse on the Public Square in Murfreesboro.
• Rutherford County Planning Commission meets at 5 p.m. Monday evening, April 14 to discuss the plans submitted by the developer, Safe Harbor Holding, LLC at the Historic Rutherford County Courthouse on the Public Square in Murfreesboro.
• The full Rutherford County Commission is expected to hold a final vote on allowing the development of the park at its May 15 meeting at the Historic Rutherford County Courthouse on the Public Square in Murfreesboro.
The rally was held to gather grassroots opposition to the park and raise public awareness of upcoming public hearings and meetings regarding the future of the Bible-themed amusement park.
No Bible Park USA was organized last year, when the park was initially proposed. The group has collected more than 3,000 signatures on a petition opposing the park, volunteer Chris Almondrode said.
SafeHarbor Holding, LLC, proposes building the non-denominational, entertainment and educational theme park in Blackman Community. About 50 acres will be used for the park. It will provide jobs for 500 to 1,000 seasonal employees and 200 to 300 fulltime jobs. The park will be open 210 days a year.
Developers of Bible Park USA may ask for incentives based on a state Legislature passed bill passed last year that allows all 95 counties to offer tax increment financing (TIF) for entertainment venues. The Industrial Development Board will discuss the TIF issue at its Wednesday meeting.
Batey encouraged the assembled people to call, write and e-mail their county commissioners, Rutherford County’s Planning Commission and the Chamber of Commerce in the run-up to key meetings that will decide the future of the park.
“Now is the time to fight, fuss, complain. Be for or against it,” County Commissioner Steve Sandlin said, adding he believes the chosen location of the park in largely rural residential Blackman Community is the biggest issue.
“To me it’s just the wrong location. If they would move it out to the racetrack and let the development come,” Sandlin said, referring to the Gladesville facility on the Rutherford-Wilson County line.
For many in the audience, the location of the proposed park is exactly the main issue.
“I can’t imagine this beautiful area being covered up with fast food restaurants and hotels,” said Kelly McCrary, a Blackman resident and mother of one.
“I’ve got him to think about,” she said, pointing to her 5-year-old son. “It’s nice to play in the yard and not worry about traffic and strangers.”
Steve Yeager summed it up as a quality of life issue.
“This is just a bombshell to this area,” Yeager said.
For more information about opposition to the Bible Park, visit the No Bible Park USA Web site at www.servingontheweb.com/nobpusa/.
For more information about Bible Park USA, visit www.bibleparkusa.com/.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at (615) 869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.