Why not change how LaVergne is marketed?

I was thinking earlier today about East Nashville and how it used to be known as a horribly dangerous part of town. Then musicians, artists and writers started moving in for the low rents and cool historic homes. And some cool businesses like the Turnip Truck and some nifty bars moved in. Eventually, the area has improved and while there are still pockets of crime, the housing prices have gone up exponentially and East Nashville is considered a good place to live.

Compare and contrast to what people are saying about us in the comments sections of the DNJ:

It’s going to be fun watching to see what high school these slugs were enrolled in LaVergne or Antioch — both fine institutes of higher education — training tomorrow’s criminal today. Maybe another HS can enter the “We’ve had numerous students arrested” contest. I’m glad my tax dollars will go to incarcerating these students instead of educating them.

***

Its like I said before just fence in that whole stinking neighborhood and call it Lake Forrest Penitentiary.Its the worst development ever built in the state of Tennessee so either fence it in or burn it down and run the scum out of the county and the state.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I live in Lake Forest Estates and the vast majority of my neighbors are  good, working class people who give a crap about their home’s value and are too busy working to have time to run around committing crimes.

There are a few bad apples who spoil it for the whole bunch, like the people down the street who park 1,492 cars in their yard and have a great mud pit instead of anything resembling a lawn, but overall, my part of the neighborhood is safe and looks halfway decent.  I don’t feel unsafe taking my dog outside at night. I am not terribly concerned about someone coming and robbing my house.

So, why do people think of LaVergne and especially Lake Forest as being the vile pit of the earth? Personally, I think it’s all in how LaVergne is marketed.

Really, LaVergne is a fine place to live. It’s 20 minutes to just about everywhere you might want to go. It’s convenient to shopping and now, Super Target (woot!).  It’s close to many places to work. It’s halfway between the music venues of both Nashville and Murfreesboro. It’s right off the interstate, and it’s completely affordable compared to other places that have such a good location.

So, what’s the problem? I honestly think it’s primarily a marketing problem. Yes, there are other issues that need to be addressed- crime and an uncontrolled growth problem. I have full faith in Chief Ted Boyd to control the crime problem as long as the city adequately funds it. But I really think if the city started marketing itself as the awesome place to live that it really could be, a lot of other stuff would follow.

We’ve got a great, concerned citizenship- we need to work on spreading the good news about LaVergne.

What do you think we, as citizens, and the city could do to change the way LaVergne is presented in the media?

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36 Responses

  1. Ivy,
    You and I dont agree on much but you are right on this issue. Lavergne is a great place. We do have a few bad apples.!! I had blogged about my neighbors a month or so ago about all the cars in the yard and now they have the cars gone and it’s all cleaned up over there. It’s been really nice to see our street once again look like a street! Maybe with the new substation coming , it ill help with the crime! Summer is cooming so this is a great time for the station to open since most youth will be home alone bored!!

  2. I don’t live in Lake Forest, but live very close. I have many friends who live there. I’ve spent a lot of time in the subdivision during the last several weeks … listings, getting ready for Parade of Homes, dropping kids off, etc. And I’ve made an effort to open my eyes and really look hard at the neighborhood because of its reputation.

    What have I seen? I’ve seen a lot of kids playing, riding bikes, shooting baskets. I’ve seen a lot of people walking dogs. I’ve seen people outside washing their cars and talking to neighbors. I’ve seen people laughing and smiling. I’ve seen a real community of folks who seem to really care about each other.

    I have also seen a variety of housing – from quite expensive to more affordable. I’ve seen very pretty yards and I’ve seen some that need work.

    I just don’t think Lake Forest is that different from many other neighborhoods in that there are some losers, but for the most part the people are just plain GOOD. A community is only as strong as the neighbors allow it to be. If there is a problem, you can always call the police department, codes, etc. and make an anonymous complaint.

    But yes… the value in a place comes from the people in a neighborhood. And the value is in how comfortable, safe, and happy you feel. I would like to see LaVergne make more of an effort to find ways to market the positive.

  3. I live in Lake Forest myself. I agree with Kathy. My neighbors are great and take care of their houses and yards and everybody looks out for everyone on our street. The police regularly patrol my street and I do not have a problem with calling the police department to report anything that is not normal happening. They have gladly come by and checked things out.

  4. We have a much lower crime rate than Antioch or Madison.That being said,it is critical to make a move here and now to stop any infux of gang activity or other crime element from seeing a window of opportunity in LaVergne.It may mean building a ‘mental” fence around “Cambodioch” and having a police presence that lets the thugs know in no uncertain terms=not in my city.Do we have a mayor or administration who sees the big picture?I do not think so.

  5. LaVergne does not have the crime problems that Antioch and Madison are currently experiencing.Our community must be a community on offense and stop the sort of gang cancer which has hit the declining areas of Nashville.Do we have a mayor or an administration which is willing to go on the offensive against crime?Also,East Nashville has been an improvement project for twenty five years.Some may remember in the early 1980’s,parts of East Nashville were zoned historic areas,which allowed home owners to obtain 3% interest loans to buy and refurbish many of the homes on Woodland,Russell,Fatherland Street and other streets.Our situation here should be to build,maintain,and preserve and area of predominantly 140K to 200K homes in a safe,low tax environment.We can do that,if our objectives and priorities are in sync.We can and will bring in more quality retail to LaVergne,which adds to our tax base.When you look at the traffic counts on Murfressboro Rd,I do not see how we can not bring in more quality to the area.

  6. This is an interesting topic for me. Many of you know that our first house was in LFE, but after 2 years we moved. We stayed in LV because we though we liked the city, but I do wonder how much the bad PR from LFE affects the whole city?

    If you want to compare to East Nashville, what happened that gave that are a better rep? Thy went upscale. High priced condos were built, the infrastructure was improved, new businesses moved in.

    In LV, we do have some upscale area’s (Hampton Roads Estates, Woodsong, Pinnacle Pointe, McFarlin Pointe), and the majority of LV’s residents DO NOT life in LFE.

    To get some better press, we are going to have to be more commited to public works projects. I emailed the mayor and suggested widening Old Nashville to at least three lanes, and turning M’boro road into a tree lined parkway from Stone’s River down to Smyrna. And what are we going to do in the year 3814 when Waldron road is finally widened? Will we ‘beautify’ that area? I know Smyran spends a ton of money on the ‘pretty’ street lights, but I tihnk that goes a long way to making an area look more upscale.

  7. I’d like to know what section of LFE you guys live in…I live in Lake Forest too and I AM afraid to take my dog for a walk at night, there are thugs who flash gang signs down the street as we pass them on the way into the cul-de-sac, our house has been valdalized, we’ve installed new padlocks and still sleep with the bedroom door locked too, there are 3 houses on our cul-de-sac that have 1500 cars parked in the yard at all times, making it look trashy. When the police come by, the cars are moved for a day, two at the most only to return. I am hopeful that the substation will allieviate some of if not the majority of these issues. Often, I hear gunshots at night, not rarely as you would expect, and every week I am hearing police sirens blaring through the neighborhood. Shouldn’t there not be so many occasions for the police to be in need of sirens in such a nice neighborhood?
    I agree, with some gentrification, some proper remarketing, LaVergne could become a haven for artists and writers or just honest families instead of thugs and thieves. But it takes time to turn that kind of corner.

  8. I grew up in East Nashville, lived in the same house my whole life, graduated from the same school my older brothers did. By the time my own children were of junior high age, that part of town was so bad we decided to get out (they had gone to private school up until that point). That is when we moved to LV.

    I have always enjoyed our neighborhood, have great neighbors and have never had a problem with crime. I did find out that the kids in high school here were not much different from the ones in Nashville.

    I agree that some beautification projects might go a long way toward changing the perception of our area.

  9. I agree we need better P.R. from the city. I hate even to watch the local news anymore in fear that I might see Lavergne on the news. I don’t live in LFE but I know most over there are great people that work hard. The bad appes need to be pushed out of this great town. If there is any trouble with them then they need to leave!
    The couple that was aressted last week for drugs and guns in the home with a child around should be locked up and house put on auction . this should not happen in our city!! we need to take a stand now and let our gov officals know we want change!!

  10. I live off Old Nash Hwy close to the High School/Cedar Grove. It may not be as upscale a neighborhood as some areas, however, it’s fairly quite. There are a lot of nice older homes on that side of town. My sister-in-law has lived on Elm Street for over 30 years.

  11. Angie B we are neighbors. I live off Sanders rd

  12. Angie- I live somewhat near the fire station, perhaps that’s why “my” part of Lake Forest is better/safer?

    You guys are right, the gentrification of East Nashville has taken a long time. But Lord Randall makes a very good point by saying we haven’t gotten as bad as Antioch and we are nowhere near as bad as East Nashville used to be. I think if we nipped this in the bud and came up with some creative solutions, we could really get LaVergne on the right track.

    It’s interesting how a reputation can affect an area or school. When people ask me where my kids go to school, I mention that I have a kid in LaVergne Middle School and people often look at me in horror and tell me, “Man, that’s a rough school.” But that has not been our experience at all. Dirk Ash and the faculty over at LMS have done a very good job of keeping LMS safe and making the rules stick. Sure, there are still fights and all, but I don’t feel any danger in sending my kid there.

    I think the biggest problem that faces us is the gang problem. For that we need to have programs with strong people to mentor kids and have lots of stuff for kids to do so they’re not out getting in trouble. And parents need to do their job as parents and monitor what their kids are doing. I know where my kids all are and what they’re doing at all times. Some churching up might help, too.

    Anyway, I’m rambling.

  13. Ivy,
    you are correct. I think I have stated before, that there is this teen in our neighborhood and he is now in Rock Springs middle school and for the last few years his parents have worked 2 jobs each and left this child alone until close to midnight each night with no supervision..well the kids in the area now tell me they cant play with this teen because he has joined a gang. I think this has happened because the parents werent around to give this child the attention and love he needed. It’s pretty bad when you have to work so much to buy things and live high on the hog instead of being there for your children. That is really messed up. I know for one that Mrs. Ivy has wonderful kids and so does Kathy T and no I am not sucking up just statiing facts here , that if you care about your children then they will become something of the greater good!! The gangs get members to join because they say they can give you love and treat you like family and the ones that are most able to join are the ones that dont think their parents care!! Remember money cant buy love and fancy things in life are great to have but family must come first!!!

    To the parents that work hard with the kids I say Great job and keep up the good work! It will pay off!!

  14. My question is this…. how do we keep the outsiders (those who’ve been expelled from other schools, etc.) out of our schools? Too many Antioch people are in our schools… isn’t it required to show “proof” of residence anymore? There is no reason that our high school should have as many kids as Antioch High?

  15. I live on Holland Ridge Drive and I have great neighbors. They keep to themselves and have never caused any problems in the neighborhood. I grew up in a small town in the southern part of middle Tennessee and I see few differences in my neighborhood than the one I grew up in. Sometimes I think that people complain about the neighborhood just to have something to talk about. I also think that others have an agenda. (If I talk down LFE enough maybe people will buy my house on the other side of the city instead of looking there or if I talk down La Vergne more people will look to Smyrna or Nashville instead.) I also think that our so called gang members would probably run for mommy if they ever met up with a real gang. It seems that we have a lot of wanna b’s.

    Also, where is the Police substation going on Holland Ridge? Did they convert a home or build their own office? I haven’t seen anything on my side of the street.

  16. The police substation is going into the Cedar Bend area toward the back of LFE. Chief Boyd told me that they are just waiting for the sewer and water lines to run and for parking area to be paved. At that point they’re bringing in a modular type office. I’m very optimistic about this and believe the city and police are being extremely proactive to take this important step. Not positive, but I ::THINK:: Chief Boyd said if this is sucessful (and I know it will be), the city will consider expanding it (maybe adding some city offices like a place to pay water bill?). The city deserves serious kudos for this effort.

    I think people think “gang” when they see a cluster of teens hanging out together. I also think folks believe gang sign is the sideways peace sign, well… that’s just what kids do these days. They think it’s the shiznit! Ha. A shift in the generation gap!

    My almost-13 year old daughter assures me I don’t know what I’m talking about, though, so take all that with a grain of salt!

  17. An interesting thought on the marketing of La Vergne. To that extent, I emailed our mayor this morning about the absolutely horrid grammar on Lavergne.org.

    Go there and read the welcome section of the page.
    I know that I was very disappointed by it.

    I received an immeadiate email response from a Ms. Mayes that “We’ll take care of that. Thank for the information.”

    So we will see if the website gets any improvements in the near future.

  18. Changing the subject…a co-worker has asked me what is going in behind Target. Is this where they are building the Lavergne mall or is that going in across the interstate. Anyone know?

  19. Kathy-
    yes, some people think the sideways peace sign is a gang sign, but I’ve lived in and spent some formative years in Chicago’s South Side and I know a Crips sign when I see it. I’m here to tell you, no matter what you may think, LaVergne has them. Believe me, I was most skeptical of our city having gangs that were any more than some unruly, unsupervised kids running amuck, until I lived here for the past two years – in LFE and wittnessed what I have wittnessed. I am optomistic that the substation will come through and be the pinnacle that LaVergne needs to turn this corner and make the changes needed to embark on the rebranding we all want for our city.

  20. Libraryguy, I am an admitted “grammar snob”. Have you been to, or watched any of the BOZA, Planning Commission, Parks & Recs or Mayor/Aldermen meetings? Some of the members of these boards/commissions butcher grammar even worse than the website. You’d think after watching play backs of these meetings, some of the members would be more careful in their choices of words (some would be better off not speaking). Anyone with at least a high school education should have learned proper grammar. Heck, you even have some men who clean their ears and yawn “wide mouthed” while on camera during their meetings. They don’t seem too interested in the meeting. It’s rather embarrassing to think some of these people actually represent our City at various public functions outside La Vergne. Professionalism should always be used during these City meetings as well as at public functions outside. No wonder La Vergne is not taken very seriously. Can you imagine some of these folks running for higher political offices? I’m a “lifer” here and I hate what La Vergne has become and the reputation that we are getting. We as citizens need to demand better. Every job opening posted for the City has qualifications listed, some educational requirements…why not for the Mayor, Aldermen and the other committee positions? Shouldn’t some college or experience be important for these positions? Maybe with more educated, qualified members, we’d have better decisions made for our City. Positive PR is needed, but we need a good PR person in place to turn it around and looks like we don’t have that at this time.

  21. yes, the ‘shoppes of La Vergne’ or something like thist, is what is being built behind Target.

  22. Sorry for the off topic comment, but now that the Shoppes of LaVergne have been brought up, I’ve HEARD one store going in somewhere in LaVergne is Torrid. A friend of mine asked a store in Michigan why there wasn’t one in Nashville and she was told there’s one going in there. On their website, there’s a job posting for a job in LaVergne so I’m guess this is true. For what it’s worth, I was shopping at the Cincinnati location of Torrid over the weekend and the associate there looked it up for me and found a LaVergne listing, but no actual information such as manager, store number, etc so he said it’s VERY likely a true “rumor”. :) If so…no more trips to Cincy to shop!

  23. Squee! Squee! Squee! I love Torrid!

  24. To Blah Blah: I have moderated the comment you wrote about the city’s use of bad grammar, etc. on its web page. It was moderated because it conflicted with our terms of use. However, because you made a very valid point (and one that I am in complete agreement with), I forwarded a copy of your comment to the city. It did not go directly to the mayor because he doesn’t apparently read his own email.

  25. While changing how La Vergne is marketed sounds like a good idea on paper, it will just ring hollow unless some key things are fixed first.

    First, shut out the Antioch kids from going to school here. They’re nothing but a cancer, and a bad influence. Sweeping that particular riff raff out of here will probably make the rest easier.

    Next, have the police department start aggressively shaking down anyone who even looks like a gang member for information, and have them patrol problem areas almost constantly. I know on Dickerson Rd, metro used to keep two squad cars parked across the street from a problem gas station, and it eventually killed the gas station’s business. The upshot was that crime dropped. The gas station now does well again, and doesn’t have the problems that it had before. It’s straight from the Ronal Serpas play book, and it would go a long way. Serpas even managed to ramp up the use of speed traps while destroying the crime rate. The dirty little secret? He forced people to earn their pay checks.

    Another move would be start voting in people who actually care. It’s obvious that most of the political types we’re stuck with as of right now don’t care, and their inaction is killing us. Getting the warm bodies out of city hall will make everything much easier.

  26. John Doe, I like your attitude towards cleaning up La Vergne, but here are a couple of questions/problems:

    1 – Are there really a lot of kids who live in Antioch going to school in LV? If so, that’s not just an issue for us, but for the entire county and the school board. Here’s an idea. Offer every kid $500 cash if they turn in someone who goes to school here but lives outside of the district. Since it costs $6k to educate each kid, $500 sounds like a good deal.

    2 – We do need to do something about the gang problem, but as soon as they start arresting people who “look” like they’re in a gang, Jesse Jackson and the rest will be here complaining of racial profiling. Whether all the gang members are white, black, hispanic, whatever, they’ll still cry foul.

    3 – Is the LPD substation open yet? If we can get about 4-5 four-wheelers constantly patolling LFE, I think we will quickly see an end to the gangs.

    4 – You are 100% right – WE can solve this problem by voting in people who are willing to admit we have problems and address those head on…

    … but that won’t happen. Why? We have two primary types of citizens, the life-long citizens who will vote for their life-long buddies, and the new citizen who rents and doens’t know or care enough about whats going on to actually register and vote.

    In 2004 we had approximately 25,000 citizens. 11,389 were registered to vote and yet on 22% did vote! Less than 1,000 votes would get you a spot as alderman, out of 25,000 residents!?

    http://www.rutherfordcounty.org/election/elections/10-05-04/lavergne_results.pdf

    People need to wake up and take a look at what’s going on and decide to either be part of the problem or part of the solution.

  27. I know if Senna Mosley runs for Mayor I will help her with whatever she needs to win!! she is for the people and that is why many in government dont like to see her coming…lol….she will stand up for us but we have to get her in the office first!! I say Senna please please run for mayor next time

  28. Michael, very good response, I agree with you 100%.

  29. Oh no, not again Ivy!

    At least now we know why this year hasn’t been as hot as last year: Hell has officially frozen-over :)

  30. michaelinLV: Even though there are plenty of ways to distinguish a gang member from a regular citizen that do not involve race/ethnic background, sadly, you are right. With the recent stuff in the news about city employees and discrimination, it would be dead simple to shut down any progress by calling the police department racist, unless they did something radical like appointing a black chief who got a chuckle out of throwing the book at people.

    On that note, we probably have 4-5 patrol cars (or close to it) in the neighborhood now, but they’re too busy writing speeding and stop sign tickets (The stop sign tickets are generally warnings, so that’s even more worthless). That’s usually all I’ve ever seen them do. If I was a teenage gang member in lake forest right now, I would think the cops were a joke, and almost not worth my time to worry about. That’s why I said they need to get aggressive. There’s pretty much no chance of redemption with a lot of these kids, and it’s not like they understand much else, so the police might as well harass them as much as legally possible.

    As for the school stuff, you’re right. I got to thinking about it after I made that post, and realized that it’s really a county-level issue. Maybe that wouldn’t solve anything, if all the Antioch riff raff are moving here. Maybe I’m just way off base with that whole idea.

    Instead, maybe La Vergne just needs to become really evil when it comes to codes and such, like Smyrna. Smyrna’s wickedness seems to be paying off well enough for them right now. I know plenty of people who hate how strict Smyrna’s become, but those same people think I’m crazy for not moving out of this poorly regulated corner of the world at all costs.

    I’m also going to agree with what you said about the voting. Political apathy has been with this country for decades. I’m sure there were plenty of people who didn’t care when the first elections were held. I was just reading that PDF you linked to, and apparently, the La Vergne elections were held a full month before the Presidential election that year. I’m left to assume that this is some artifact from “the good old days” that was designed to keep all but the most dedicated from voting. That’s usually how that game goes. Local politicians are a species seem to favor low overall turnout, unless it’s a close race.

    bearroller9640: The people that most of the city government employees hate/fear/don’t want are exactly the ones you want calling the shots. The ones who don’t want them can pretty much be marked as “Wallys” (Read a few strips of Dilbert if you don’t get that reference) without too much hassle, and the rest are probably worth keeping on the city payroll.

  31. […] given a lot of thought about Ivy’s suggestion that we should change how LaVergne is marketed.  Without revealing too much of the column, I think we could make this work and I’ve […]

  32. Wow. I hadn’t actually gotten into this thread before, and there’s a lot of food for thought.
    I’m a relative newcomer to LaVergne, and I do live in LFE. I walk at night a lot of times by myself, and for the record I have never felt unsafe. Same thing goes during the day. For the most part it’s about awareness and taking necessary precautions.
    I’d be willing to run for some kind of office under a different banner…either Libertarian or possibly Green. There’s room for a different voice and there’s more than just Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal out there.

  33. How about Cleaning up LaVergne and LFE. Have you look around LFE lately. 45% of the people do not take care of their yard. Also, the City need to widen more streets. The traffic is crazy

  34. 7 rounds of 44 magnum bullets ripped through my 62 year old mother in laws home in Lake Forrest Estate. Any Questions?

  35. What? When and where did this happen?

  36. I know something happened Saturday between 10 & 11PM. My husband went out to go to walmarts in Smyrna, when he came home he told me that he had to go another way because the police had crime scene tape up & not letting anyone through. It was a couple streets over from where we live near Water’s Edge –backside of LFE. We are not for sure what happened.

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