By SUSAN T. LEATHERS
Debby Rainey has called Metro Fairview home for more than 40 years.
Never heard of “Metro Fairview”? Then you obviously don’t know Debby, a first-term City of Fairview commissioner.
“When they started calling Nashville ‘Metro Nashville,’ I decided Fairview should be a ‘Metro’ too,” Rainey says, and the moniker stuck. At least for her.
Anyone driving through the city of 8,700 residents would hardly call it metropolitan. There’s no historic “downtown.” Instead the commercial district is spread along an eight-mile-or-so section of Hwy. 100 with a healthy mix of well-worn businesses and strip malls sprinkled between a growing mix of new fast-food chains, shopping centers and municipal buildings.
A 722-acre park
City Hall, built in 2001, stands near the entrance to the city’s crown jewel.
Dr. Evangeline Bowie deeded 722 acres of restored and re-imagined forests and lakes to Fairview prior to her 1992 death. Bowie Nature Park today is a hub of activity year-round. In 2008, the city secured the park’s future for generations to come when it was placed in conservation easement protected by the Land Trust for Tennessee. The park has a staffed nature center and 17 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Three lakes offer fishing opportunities. Kids love the Treehouse Playground, built by community volunteers in 1998.
Camp Bowie 2019, a summer day camp experience for kids ages 5 to 12, kicks off on June 10. For everyone else – plus children, of course – the park hosts a year-round schedule of events, from star-gazing parties and owl prowls to concerts and ecological programming.
Nearby, Camp Marymount has seen thousands of children participate in its residential summer camp programs since it opened in 1939. The camp also serves as a popular retreat center and event venue.
Planning update is due
Celebrating its 60th birthday this July, the city has embarked on a mission to update its land-use plan to one “that can carry the city for the next 20 years,” City Manager Scott Collins says. Collins arrived at city hall in August 2016 from Northport, Ala., a suburb of Tuscaloosa with more than twice Fairview’s population. Within 90 days, he began discussing the need to take a close look at Fairview’s future.
“The city was not in a very good place at the time,” Collins says, mentioning mismanagement of the Fairview Police Department and the lesser known and largely unspoken way it managed its growth through its policies and procedures.
Like other cities in ever-growing Middle Tennessee, people who live outside of Fairview produce both positive and negative impacts on the city itself.
“The current infrastructure is OK for growth inside the city. The larger concern is the growth taking place outside the city,” says Collins, citing Dickson County’s growing town of Burns, and Dickson and Hickman counties in general.
“Much of that traffic flows through Fairview on a daily basis. We know that 75 percent of retail sales within the city are made by people who don’t live in Fairview. Commuters are what is sustaining our local economy. But they also put a strain on our local infrastructure, primarily our thoroughfares.”
In order to maintain a better balance of growth and to grow local property taxes, Collins says the city must have residential growth. “We can’t survive without it.”
Which brings the city to a conundrum.
“We have traffic because everyplace has grown, yet Fairview is the slowest-growing economy in Williamson County over the past 10 years.”
To that end, the Board of Commissioners is focused on approving a new comprehensive land-use plan this spring. Once adopted, the Planning Commission will go to work rewriting the city’s subdivision regulations and developing a new design review manual to reflect the comprehensive plan, Collins explains.
All which is a positive, Rainey says.
“Growth is coming, and we’ve got to have the infrastructure and updated land-use policies in place to successfully deal with it.”
Far-flung but connected
Fairview has a growing allure for families who want Williamson County Schools yet more affordable housing than found elsewhere in the county. It’s a 35-minute drive to downtown Nashville and downtown Franklin, yet still feels rural. It’s accessible via I-40 and State Routes 100 and 96. Interstate 840, the southern loop around Nashville, offers easy access to I-65 to the east. Scenic Natchez Trace Parkway is nearby.
Fairview doesn’t have a movie theater, but it does now have Fairview Community Theater, established in 2016. Staging audience-favorites like “Steel Magnolias,” Southern Fried Funeral” and “Leading Ladies,” the theater company has quickly ingrained itself to the larger community. Plays are staged in the 255-seat Fairview Performing Arts Center, which opened in 2015 at Fairview Middle School.
Like most small towns, local schools are “the heart of Fairview,” Rainey says. When the Fairview High Yellow Jackets play, no matter what sport, you’ll find a supportive crowd.
Dining options continue to expand, but if homestyle cooking is on your mind, the Country Café on Hwy. 100 is the place to head.
“We say it’s like going to Great-Grandma’s house; it’s family. And the food’s good.”
But don’t look for things like matching coffee mugs. You’re as likely to have one advertising a local business or featuring a butterfly as not. Become a regular and the friendly staff may let you order specialties not on the menu – like chocolate gravy on Saturdays. Need a homemade pie but no time to bake? Pick one up here for $6.
Just down Hwy. 100 headed south, Fairview Fresh Deli Donuts, an old-school donut shop, is within eyeshot of the newer Dunkin Donuts. The latter may have hand-crafted espresso drinks, but the former has apple fritters to die for and chocolate old-fashioned cake donuts. You choose. Better yet, go to both.
Today Fairview has three grocery stores – Publix, Wal-Mart and Food Saver (what Rainey refers to as “the little store.”) And gas is significantly cheaper here than in Franklin, Brentwood and other points in the county.
Friends and neighbors
Though the city is in Williamson County, residents – especially those who work in Franklin or Brentwood — often head to Dickson, Bellevue and Metro Nashville for additional shopping, services and entertainment.
“I think Fairview is such a bedroom community that once they leave work in (Historic) Franklin on Friday, they don’t want to go back,” says Rainey of her Metro Fairview friends and neighbors. “The best thing about Fairview is the people. If someone needs something, it always gets done.
“Everybody who moves here moves here for that reason. Despite growth, we still have the same culture.”
That culture – and the city’s 60th birthday – will be celebrated July 3 at Fairview’s annual Fourth of July celebration. Specific details to come but plan to celebrate at City Hall where food trucks, music and kids’ activities topped off with fireworks will toast the country’s founding and the city’s future.