Traffic, terrorism and taxes concern people at Bible Park USA sessions

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Mother Tammy Baskette fears if terrorists attack Bible Park USA, traffic will prevent her from rescuing her children at Blackman schools.

Instead of locating Bible Park USA on Blackman Road, Baskette believes the proposed park should be located on state Route 840 at the Nashville SuperSpeedway near the Rutherford-Wilson County line and away from her Deerfield home.

But James Mullins, whose land adjoins the proposed park, disagrees.

“Personally, I think it’s a better place,” Mullins told Baskette.

Baskette replied the park needs to locate away from her backyard.

The exchange between Mullins and Baskette occurred during Tuesday’s session seeking input by developers of Bible Park USA. Several hundred people from the Blackman community, other parts of Rutherford County and Nashville asked questions and gave comments about the park.

Park consultant Terri Sterling of Sterling Communications said the developers appreciated the comments and concerns from people who attended the three sessions this week in Murfreesboro, Smyrna and La Vergne. Those concerns are being compiled for review by the development staff.

“The project will continue to be refined from now on,” Sterling said. “We want this project to be the best quality themed attraction anywhere in the country.”

Developers hope the Rutherford County Planning Commission will review the project in its April meeting.

Some people attending the sessions wanted to learn more about the park while others wanted to voice their displeasure. Some were angry about what they viewed.

A.J. Hinkle of Wilkerson Trace, who lives about 1-1/2 miles away from the site, said the access road leading to the park will still give tourists access to Beesley Road, Manson Pike and their neighborhood.

His second concern was property value.

“I don’t want my property values to go down,” Hinkle said.

Mullins said he believes property values will rise.

Randall Bayne of Nashville lived in a condo near Myrtle Beach, S.C., when a theme park was built. He said his home values increased significantly.

Like Baskette, Hinkle believes the project should be located at the former Starwood complex in Nashville and away from residential areas.

“The only reason they want to come here is where it’s located near (Interstate) 24 and (state Route) 840,” Hinkle said. “They didn’t answer the question why it’s not going in Bellevue or Brentwood.”

Hinkle mentioned Nashville and Murfreesboro were placed on a Homeland Security list for terrorists. He believes a Bible park might attract terrorists.

“This is nothing more than a magnet for terrorism,” Hinkle said.

He encouraged citizens to boycott any business that supplies the park.

His wife, Mary, questioned how semi trucks would travel off I-24 or state Route 840 to Florence Road to supply the park.

“They (developers) have no clue how semis are going to get on Florence Road,” Mary Hinkle said. “That is such bullcrap.”

The intersection of Florence Road and Manson Pike doesn’t even have a traffic light, she said, adding she couldn’t imagine Blackman High School students trying to get to school with all the park traffic.

Sterling said developers heard several concerns about Florence Road.

“We heard people had concerns about the amount of traffic on Florence Road into the employee and supplier entrance,” Sterling said. “That’s definitely something we want to take a look at.”

Mullins, who has lived in Blackman 65 years, sold his farm several years ago for a 170-house subdivision. He likes the idea of a park to help the economy.

“What I’m against is taking taxpayers’ money,” Mullins said. “I think if people want to own a business, they should pay for it. It’s either going to houses or this.”

Developer Armon Bar-Tur has said the park will not be funded with taxpayers’ funds.

Some people liked the idea of a Bible Park to spread the word about the Bible.

Bayne was accompanied by Christian Music Presenters partner Roy Hayes, who has his doctorate in divinity.They hope the park will help stimulate the struggling music industry and provide a venue for 250 Christian music artists.

“Fundamentally as a Christian, I believe the word of God does not go out void,” Hayes said. “I believe with the development of this park we are creating a platform for the word of God,” in an authentic and tangible way.

Mark Savage, an auto upholster from Christiana, said he envisions bringing his Sunday School class to the park.

“We’re supposed to be the buckle of the Bible belt,” Savage said. “We need to start living it.”

Vice President Barry Watts of Branch Bank and Trust in Murfreesboro said the bank would consider funding the park.

Watts is impressed with the design team and business vision. He believes the park will improve the “quality of life in Rutherford County.”

“I think it will be a great meeting place for kids,” Watts said, adding, “they need something.”

Joani Beckwith of Murfreesboro, who was on the committee to close Opryland, said she favored the park at first but was disappointed with Bar-Tur’s presentation at the session.

She does have some reservations about the park but believes the location is good.

Stephen Shirley, a State Farm claims adjuster, lives on Netherland Drive. He wanted answers to the concerns of taxes and the economic viability of the park.

A consultant about the tax increment financing said the liability of the bonds will be placed on the business, not on taxpayers.

“If I don’t have a tax liability going into it, it alleviates my biggest concern,” Shirley said. “I don’t want to pay for it.”

If the park attracts 1.26 million visitors for 210 days per year, roughly 6,000 people per day will visit, he said.

Economically, Shirley believes from listening to the presentations the park will succeed. If the park is willing to invest the money in roads and bridges to help traffic, he believes the developers want to succeed.

“These guys are tops,” Shirley said.

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Members Opinions:
February 13, 2008 at 12:00am
I'm not sold on it being a "terrorist target." Not that it couldn't be, but I don't think it's any more of a target than a stadium or mall or church or whatever.
February 13, 2008 at 12:00am
Yeah, I'm not seeing the terrorism link here, why is a Bible Park any more of a terrorism magnet than, say, a Bible publisher or a large church like World Outreach or Two Rivers?
February 13, 2008 at 12:00am

The other questions raised were:

What else will be allowed to go on new access road across the farms they will put entrance through? (About 2 miles long) Commercial or Residential. The city has already approved road entrances to the farms from what they showed on some maps to connector farms. Bar-Tur has already placed options on the farms for the road access. And it seemed to be a very very short distance off the Beesley Road ramp and leading to other future planned city roads and developments leading back to town and Beesley connection, it already looked densely planned.

Another- what type industry would they allow to go on 840? It was said the county has no restrictions on zoning for the 840, for the length of Rutherford County and the fear of Dollywood creating another Pigeon Ford strip and fireworks shops etc would that happen here?

I did not realize the proposed park backed up to 840. I didn't realize there did not seem to be anywhere else the SouthWest loop is going, it dead ends in a field prior to the public road they are going to use as service access and where parks borders a subdivision. (They were not good at labeling public roads so you could tell what was where if you didn't live on that road and they got confused saying 840 crosses over Medical Center Parkway)

Others thought the county commissioners should move this to a referendum vote.

My son age 11, wanted to go and look at the way they would do the park. He said it commercialized the Bible too much and he didn't think that was good.

They seemed to be very conscientous on the lighting issue and unlike the Avenue they promised to not keep lights on all day and all night. Both should put some solar panels on to save energy and limit the TVA towers everywhere.

Most people that I heard where asking very informed questions and most did not appear to be in favor of a park in Rutherford County, not justthat area.

February 13, 2008 at 12:00am
What does this Mr. Bayne have to do with this as he lives in Davidson County? I have talked to lots of people about this and the area around the Race Track has been mention many times. Sounds good to me. There are no residental neighborhood in a large area there. What bothers me is that the developer will not let the County know who the investors are in this project. Seems a little strange to me.
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
A residential area is no place for a theme park PERIOD! There's no question it's a terrible location. It will open up this entire area to commercialization.

We would have to trust these people completely. According to them, residents won't see them, hear them,and there will be no traffic woes at all. What happens if they run into financial trouble and can't build the road? Or what if they decide to change the entrance? What if they decide to have more rides? What happens when it fails? There is no way this will be successful for long. THEN WHAT? They couldn't answer that because they are selling the idea it's going to be a huge success. I don't think so. Who would spend $25 to $30 to come sit in a cow pasture and walk around looking at people in costumes? It's a glorified Vacation Bible School. I would equate it to something like the Renaissance Festival. You see it once and it's great but after that, there's not much to see. The Renaissance Festival is for one month each year.
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
I was mis quoted on boycotting the suppliers.What i said was boycott the businsess supporters of this that were helping such as Sterling Communications, Demo's etc.. The local Mom and pops places are all for thsi because they are seeing dollar signs.

Also Mr. bayne of NASHVILLE said his property value went up on a "Condo near a theme park in Myrtle beach S.C". I can completely see hwo the value would rise tehre it's a condo on the beach near a theme park. i live in a home near fields where almost nobody tours? To compare that to hear is ridiculous! Nice try!

I beleive the ratio at the meeting for it was around 30% against it was around 70%. Most of the people for it were Realators planeted tehre like the attractive collgege kids paid to be tehre too!
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
why couldn't a Bible Theme Park be successful? It could become a target spot for church groups all over the country and from my understanding it will have revolving exhibits so there will be new stuff there every once in a while, like a museum does.
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am

By the way, there won’t be any SCHOOL trips made there so there are few less people visiting the park.

Easygoing- it could become a Terrorist target as well. It would be a terrorist target because it would stand for what Terrorist want to destroy. Disneyland is a terrorist target, don't you think it would be an even bigger target if it were based on the Bible and not the Koran? Are they going to pay for the security that Disneyland has?

Easygoing- where do you live? I am 1.5 miles away from the proposed site.

February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
I'm asking - Where is all this terrorism talk coming from? The WTC was not a religious icon and the Pentagon is a Pagan symbol, so why do you think terrorists give a crap about a bible park that's gonna have probably less than 2000 people in it at a time. If it's going to be the white elephant everybody apperantly HOPES it's going to be, then why would they consider attacking it at all?

February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
This is basically a money changers in the temple scenario. Mr Bar-Tur and his ass0ciates have stated that this park is a for profit enterprise and has nothing to do with God -- this is entertainment based on biblical stories and holds nothing as to the essense of salvation or redemption.
I attended the meeting the other night and talked with the economist at length -- the bottom line is that Murfreesboro is looking at a 4 million dollar tax revenue source with this thing -- how could any politician resist that? I asked the economist the selfish question "What's in it for me? What happens in 5 years when attendance falls and it cannot make money without assistance from the county? What will it do to the property values adjacent to this facility. The answer was nothing, nothing , nothing and nothing. These people would have you believe that $120 million, 200 acre, three years of construction would have absolutely no negative impact.
William Ford -- Murfreesboro TN
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
I protest vehemently -- build this thing elsewhere -- !!!!!!!! not in the middle of
residential, with a school 2 miles away.
Our politicians are being lead into the Arc with a hand full of money -- this Arc was not built by God.

William Ford
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
I can't believe they want a theme park in Murfreesboro!!! When we moved here over 7 years ago, we heard things like; Rutherford County wants to stay small... not let big business come in. Hmmm, what happened?

We now have such growth (which some is good), but along with that we have now seen an increase in crimes, almost on a daily basis. We seen annexations that home owners TRIED to fight and lost… why? Because our voices are not being heard!
When will it stop?

This theme park is not a “necessity” for Rutherford County. With the new Avenue and the Mall growing we have bigger issues to be concerned with. CRIME, TRAFFIC ISSUES and all that comes along with that.

The theme park needs to go somewhere else…
When will the “people’s voices be heard”?

We are already loosing so much of our beautiful trees; people are loosing their homes, wildlife has to try to find somewhere else to feed…. When will it stop?
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
There was already big business here 7 years ago. 'They'lied to you!
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
Just a note: Lewisburg issued revenue bonds for a golf course some years ago in a case similar to this one (pledging revenue from a project to repay the cost of building it). When the revenue from the course came up short, the voters--many of whom didn't like the deal in the first place--put a new city council in. The new city council let the bonds default.

Just something to think about.
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
from the experts on this stuff: A default on a TIF obligation might sufficiently impair a municipal credit rating to require higher interest rates on future generalobligation bonds. Consequently, there would be pressure on city government to bail out a TIF district rather than accept the credit rating consequences of a TIF bond default.

Wilcox, David A., David E. Versel. 1999. “Economics Research Associates: Review of Best Practices for Tax-Increment Financing in the United States.” October 12, p. 5.

What would our county commission do? Stick to their promise not to use general revenue for the park and default? Or stick us with the bill to save its borrowing butt?
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
Marketed by Credo Capital Ltd.
Expected return on investment (ROI)40% to 50%. Expected investment period 4 to 6 years.

February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
Here's another interesting anecdote - if my memory serves me..I may have a specific fact or two wrong...

A few years ago, the city announced plans for a big commerce park, 9 more holes of golf and convention center. There was an outcry from a group of citizens not to do this with our tax dollars. Some of the people in the group became politically involved...ran for office and such. I think a couple of them even got on some boards and committees.

The city put the money away and said they would discuss what to do with it. They said they would not tear up Manson Pike and surrounding areas to build the commerce park and that the issue was over...

Now there's NEW Manson Pike(Medical Center Parkway) with a commerce park, The Avenue, new convention center and a new hospital on the way...

Point being, they wanted it, 'we' said no, they changed the name of what it was, built a new road and did it anyway (sans the 9 holes of golf).

February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
What will happen if they nuke the place? That will be when Hades freezes over. I don't think in any way, shape, form or fashion this will be a terroist target. That is stretching it a bit. All this concern is bloated. It is a rural area. Where is better for a nice park? Main Street? How about surrounding the court house?
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
Apparently Mr. Bar-Tur, his investors, and supporters did not read the story in the Bible about the merchants in the Temple. Temple....Themepark it is all the same message and probably the same outcome. Interestingly enough, those that speak against this park have been glad to put their name to their opposition, I wonder why the "businesses" that support this endeavor have not done the same? As a business owner and resident, I do not support this park. Frankly, I am tired of politicians telling me that they know better for me than I do. It is sheer arrogance and stifles the democratic process.
February 14, 2008 at 12:00am
I have to smile a little here. Concerns about terrorist attacks. I personally have more fear of tornadoes. Everyone here has a much better chance of being struck by a tornado.

Of course they would want to build in a location accessible to as many major highways as possible. Any smart business endeavor be foolish not to consider accessibility. I came here from a very small town in NY. It is now one of the wealthiest and coveted areas in the entire state, never mind the nation. Despite the wealth, residents pay much lower taxes on homes and schools than neighboring towns. Because of this highway access major companies built their headquarters alongside what we now call Platinum Mile, an area which was once nothing but farmland -- just like many areas of Murfreesboro!

These corporations continue to pour millions of dollars into our town. The schools are rated highest in the nation. Recreation was expanded. The creation of white collar jobs 15 minutes away, saved many from commuting an hour in each direction -- like so many here do each day to Nashville.

My parents bought a fixer upper for 30,000 less than 40 years ago. Today, they have offers for 700,000!

Some of may be thinking, if it was so good what are you doing here? I wish I could have stayed but the demand vs the supply of housing is that strong. People don't leave and generations of families continue to reside in these homes. I would have loved to stay if I knew I'd inherit Mom's home, but alas, there were 7 siblings and we each to make our family nest somewhere!

I don't live in the Blackman area. I'm near the college, but I envision Blackman can become the "town" I grew up in. And for this to happen we need the economic growth.

I envision one day that many of the divided areas of Murfreesboro will in fact become self-sufficient towns and villages supported by their own government, police, etc. It's envitable. One of the most prosperous is going to be the Blackman area and families will never want to leave... generation after generation.

Be optimistic if not for yourselves, for your children and your grandchildren.

P.S. I can't see the concern about semi-trailers. They're already rumbling down every road in M'boro. Try living near the Hoover rock blasting plants and having those big wide dump trucks caravans passing behind your home every day.

I know it was just a 11-year-old young boy here quoted as saying the Bible Park sounds too "commercialized." I have to frown at adults with the same attitude. Churches everywhere with big signs outside competing for congregation. Signs almost taller than trees. Massive "Halloween" events. Advertising galore.
February 15, 2008 at 12:00am
Nothing like marketing for Jesus...Did someone actually say it would be a good place for the kids to hang out? Seriously? Yeah, I can see the kids saying, "No Mom, I don't want to go to the dark movie theater where I can make out with my boyfriend, or the mall where I can buy all the too-revealing clothes you let me buy, I want to go learn about the Bible!" Please.
February 15, 2008 at 12:00am
well, I didn't say anything about SCHOOL groups visiting as the reply to my last post suggests.
Kids will go anywhere they can go. I will be the first in line to be a Marketer, Promoter, Advertiser, for Jesus. We need more of it. I want to be a walking billboard for Him. Call what you will. I'll just say I live fairly close and would drive by it frequently. And finally I think if you do some research people would find that our crime rate per capita is still relatively low.
February 15, 2008 at 12:00am
Playing the part of devil's advocate here....there is a very good chance that something will go on this property. A factory, offices, another Wal-mart(please not another one). Whatever it is, won't it still be an eye sore and cause more traffic problems? Even a school would cause traffic problems.
Things are going to get built and they WILL be built by residential areas. What's the point of building any business if you're not going to be close to people?
If they don't build business on that land now, they will later. It is inevitable.
February 15, 2008 at 12:00am
I don't like the idea of telling people they can't open a business on property they have purchased and repeatedly telling them their business is going to fail and so on a free and open-market economy.

Whether it's a Bible Park, factory, hospital or just a doomsday cult looking for a place to end it all, I think if they purchased the land and they're within the law, it's their prerogative.

And if they chose to put a large jewel-encrusted Holy Jesus-Couch on the front porch, they should be able to do that too!
February 15, 2008 at 12:00am
Everyone that reads this needs to go to "" and look at the bottom right hand in red for a listing of Spammers and Scammers. If this does not work for you you can just go to "" and click on Spammers and Scammers. Next to the last name on the list of Boycott these businesses is listed "Yalla Tours - Romen Paldi". You make up your mind as to who the County Commission is dealing with on the Theme Park Development.

Mr.Bar Tur should be up front with the County Planning Commission and release all the names of investors he has on board now. If he will not do this, then the County Commission should require that he do so before this goes any further.

Do not believe that anything good will come of this purposed development.

February 15, 2008 at 12:00am
Interkosmos, good point. As long as it's within regulations set forth by the county/city long as I'm not paying for it(literally) ......
February 22, 2008 at 12:00am may want to dig a little deeper on fact go to and read about the scammers who are trying to blacken the names of good people. It's so easy to sit back and throw darts at people...and so unfair. If you want to be against something that's fine, but play clean.
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