Brentwood Holiday Events, Year-End News & Comments From Vice Mayor Nelson Andrews

Before anything else, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a Joyous Holiday Season. As the end of my first term as Vice Mayor and Brentwood City Commissioner approaches, I will say it has been a remarkable experience.

This newsletter is longer than I prefer, but with two Brentwood elections happening these next 6 months, back-to-back, it feels important to share much of what we do as a commission, all in one place. My intention is that anyone can either read this entirely to have the “big picture” or just skim through to find what interests them.

One of the remarkable things to me is the enthusiasm Brentwood Residents have for investing in our community. Just a few of the projects I’ve been a part of include:

The fact that Brentwood Citizens instigate and orchestrate private fundraising campaigns to support civic programs reinforces my faith in the character of our people. It has been 30+ years since Brentwood raised the tax rate, and while this is often attributed to success in growing our tax base, it is also because residents voluntarily invest in our community. This habit helps us “have nice things” without putting them on the tax bill in addition to adding the critical ingredient of community engagement and oversight.

This past couple of years has also illustrated the truth of an old political cliché “what you run on during the campaign isn’t always what you get to work on in office.” I can’t think of a better example of this then COVID-19. When the unexpected happens, you have to lean on experience, faith and judgement to navigate unfamiliar territory.

Nelson Andrews Campaign Website

I’ve decided to run again for the Brentwood City Commission, the campaign begins soon, and I know from experience that running a good campaign requires candidates to raise between $10,000-$25,000. If you are happy with the job I’m doing and would like to see me continue, I would really appreciate your support.

Contributions can be done by check, PayPal, or Venmo. While larger donations help greatly to the goal, no amount is too small.

Campaign contributions are important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the vote of confidence you communicate by contributing. I hope I can count on your support.

As always, I value your perspective and feedback, and you can reach me at either if it’s not “on fire” and 615-917-1384 (voice or text) if it is.


Risk of Severe Weather and Flooding

  • The National Weather Service has given Brentwood an official “heads up” for flooding potential this week.
  • As always with weather, the situation could change, but there are steps you can take to help minimize any potential for damage to your property including:
    • Make sure you don’t have bags of leaves or other loose items outside that could get washed into stormwater drains or culverts. We have seen debris block the water’s path and cause damage.
    • If you live in an area with drainage ditches and driveway culverts, check to be sure they are unblocked and operating properly.
    • If you have property in a commercial area that has stormwater issues, check to make sure your stormwater removal pipes, ditches, culverts, and other elements are clear and able to operate properly.
  • As I’ve mentioned before, the City of Brentwood is undergoing a significant stormwater watershed study. If you notice something you think represents a stormwater handling problem during the heavy rains this week, please take a picture and send it to me at with a description of where it is and what you think might be going on. It may prove helpful as we try to get the most impact throughout stormwater improvement process.

“Brighten Brentwood” Christmas Tree Lighting on December 6th

Brentwood's Christmas Tree Lighting

Brentwood Fire & Rescue is collecting Toys for Tots

Fire Station 5 Grand Opening

Tennis in the City of Brentwood

Tennis is being discussed at the City and Williamson County level and options range from “let the free market handle it” to putting up a full-service tax-funded tennis club.

While I don’t think either extreme is desirable or likely, there are consideration we need to work through, including:

  • How do we balance the financial contribution between Brentwood-resident tennis players, non-resident tennis players, and residents who do not participate in tennis at all?
  • Is there an opportunity to work with the county at some level like we do with the aquatic center? Our team at the City of Brentwood is in ongoing conversation with Williamson County Parks and Rec to work through some concepts like:
    • Interaction between tennis and pickleball
    • Upfront costs, land valuation and potential revenue distribution
    • Access for Brentwood residents vs. non-city residents.
  • If we move forward but don’t partner with Williamson County, who else has the expertise to run something like this cost effectively and at a quality level acceptable to our community?
  • Would getting city/county parks and recreation involved discourage a privately funded tennis venture such as the proposed venture in Spring Hill?
  • Where would something like this go, and what impact would it have on the surrounding roads and residences?

I’ve made it a point to engage in the Williamson County Parks & Recreation Master Plan process and am continuing to work as productively as possible on this.

I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on this topic, and most of it so far comes from either huge tennis fans or equally enthusiastic critics. My plan is to continue the conversation and learn all I can as we try to balance the compromises. As always, your input is welcome, and I will do my best to work through this fairly.

LED Lighting Project

  • The City of Brentwood has partnered with Path Company and is working in conjunction with NES and Middle Tennessee Electric to move our entire street light system from incandescent bulbs over to an LED system.
  • Benefits including lowering our use of electricity with more efficient technology, updating our lighting system for better safety with less light pollution, and updating to consistent fixtures across the city to simplify repairs and maintenance.
  • We have made every effort during the months-long analysis phase of this project to reduce light pollution and select a color temperature pleasing to the eye while also meeting visibility and safety standards. That said, my experience tells me that anytime something changes, it takes a little getting used to.
  • Brentwood City Commission unanimously approved the nearly $3.5 million dollar project in November, and we expect installation to be complete late-spring 2023.
  • Full details have been posted by the City of Brentwood.

Update on Previous News

Cell Phone Service in Brentwood

  • After writing about this last month, I received quite a bit of feedback on the topic. There is a lot going on here, from regulating the physical towers to the impact of the pandemic and how it impacted the way people use voice & data.
  • There appears to be little consistency in the way cell towers are regulated between Brentwood, Franklin, and Nashville
  • Technology is rapidly evolving, and these changes make an impact – sometimes better, sometimes not.
  • It sounds like the pandemic made a huge impact as people who usually traveled or worked downtown stayed in Brentwood and worked online. While some of this was over the land-line networks, cell companies saw a huge uptick in data usage as adults and students alike moved quickly into Zoom, WebEx, Teams, and other tools that use a lot of data.
  • Improving service can be challenging since it generally requires adding cellular towers:
  • Cell towers are not always welcome near homes.
  • Cell towers are all privately owned and require someone who is capable of buying, installing, operating and maintaining the equipment.
  • Technology is moving away from large 4G towers towards smaller 5G towers with improved speed but shorter range. This requires more cell towers for similar coverage.
  • I was able to contact the government relations representatives from AT&T and Verizon. Both of these companies are friendly and responsive, and it sounds like Verizon has plans for an upgrade to their Brentwood Network that might help their customers in the not-so-distant future.

Old Smyrna Road

  • The feedback I received about Old Smyrna Road has been overwhelmingly in favor of preserving the historic nature of this part of Brentwood.
  • On November 14, we authorized an agreement with Sullivan Engineering for a schematic and preliminary engineering study for Old Smyrna Road.
  • Sullivan Engineering has a long track record in Brentwood, and are looking into some creative ideas including the possibility of transforming a picturesque section of the current road into a “linear park” as a way of preserving the rock wall and trees.
  • As we learn more, I’ll be sure to include it in future newsletters.

Windy Hill Park

  • A preliminary plan has been submitted to the City of Brentwood Parks Board as well as the City Commission and received unanimous approval.
  • Elements include:
    • 1-mile multi-use trail
    • 4,500 linier feet of secondary trails
    • A 400-meter loop trail
    • 2 stream crossings
    • A 30’ x 20’ structure
    • Gazebo
    • Picnic tables, benches, drinking fountain and restrooms
  • These are preliminary plans and could be subject to updates as they proceed through the engineering and final approval process.
  • Thanks to ESP Associates, our outstanding design partner on this project who has local offices on Wilson Pike Circle here in Brentwood. Thanks also to the team at Bike Walk Brentwood for your excellent insight on design and trail surfaces with pedestrians and cyclists in mind. It really makes a difference!


  • The City of Brentwood received the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 36th year in a row. This is a remarkable feat and is a positive reflection on our outstanding team.
  • At our November 14 meeting we authorized an agreement with Harpeth Valley Utilities District to relocate water lines as our next step towards implementing the Murray Lane/Holly Tree Gap roundabout.
  • We continue to invest in our police department to make sure they have the best tools and information to do their job. At our November 28th meeting we voted to update our clear intelligence software, License Plate Reader and Arrest Gateway Pro databases. Providing proper tools and information leads to better outcomes for everyone with fewer mistakes and supporting better decision making.


Focus — “Election Season” is here

As you probably know, it is now “Election Season” in Brentwood. While we usually don’t have active campaigning during the holiday season, the loss of our beloved friend and colleague Regina Smithson has triggered a Special Election immediately before the regular election cycle this spring.

During my time on the commission, I’ve made it a point to consistently communicate to the community about what is going on and link my comments back to the source material so people can “dig deep” and comment back to me on topics they care about. This process has been rewarding, educational, and has helped me learn while making new friends.

As you are deciding how to vote, I find it helpful to know the work of the commission and talk to candidates about how they approach these responsibilities. At times there also seems to be confusion about what the commission does, both in terms of what we do but also what we do not control.

Examples of the ongoing work of our City Commission includes:

Public Safety — if this is not done well, then there is not a lot else that matters. Public safety — police, fire, and emergency medical care — is primarily about the people on our team, but also providing them with the facilities and resources they need to do their job well, such as:

Traffic and Mobility — making it easy to move around Brentwood is a priority and challenge as we work both road system improvements as well as opportunities to reduce the number of trips and vehicle miles required.

Our Parks

Annexation and Zoning — the carefully thought through process of bringing land in the Urban Growth Boundry into the City of Brentwood so it can be improved to our standards.

Stormwater and Water Quality — a regular topic of discussion that I have written about in detail.

  • We have also seen an increase in the frequency of intense storms, which has caused damage in some of our older neighborhoods in particular.
  • Because stormwater always has to go somewhere, we have to be careful that making a change in one area does not create another problem downstream. Unintended consequences are common.
  • Brentwood implemented a Sewer System Master Plan long ago and is currently finishing one of the large elements — a stormwater equalization tank near the pump station.
  • In addition to the Sewer Master Plan, we have added over $8 million additional funding over the next 6 years for a comprehensive storm drainage improvement program.
  • To my knowledge, the health department has reported zero (0) incidence of health problems caused by waterborne pathogens in our rivers or streams.

Financial Health and Stability of our City Government

  • Our tax base and where our money comes from – the critical importance of our sales tax and business property taxes.
    • Something to keep in mind is the importance of our commercial districts. While commercial land is less than 7% of our total acreage it contributes more than 60% of our tax revenues. This is because businesses pay property tax at a higher rate as well as generate sales tax and sometimes hotel/motel tax or beer/liquor tax.
    • Brentwood has been able to go more than 30 years without making a change to the property tax rate. This is in part because we have been able to consistently grow the tax base. As we build out the city and urban growth boundary, this will become more of a challenge.
    • As you have likely heard, there is a lot discussion about changing workplace preferences and the kind of office experience that is desirable. As the market for commercial buildings evolves, it is important for us to work to keep Brentwood a desirable place for companies to locate.
  • Careful planning and spending
  • While debt service is not a huge part of our budget, low interest rates over the past 10 years have made having municipal bonds a desirable part of our city’s financial structure. While I am certainly a huge proponent of fiscal responsibility and living within our means, debt is an important tool in certain cases, such as with our police headquarters or large roadbuilding projects. Our AAA bond rating lets Brentwood borrow at a very competitive rate.
  • Our team keeps a close eye on what money we expect to have for investment in big projects, and we use bond issues at times to augment our capital structure. Over the next 6 years, we expect to spend $158 million to make improvements within our city, and of this, $19 million (about 12%) will come from issuing bonds (government debt).
  • Transportation is the single largest area of investment, followed by utilities (water & sewer), general facilities & equipment, then storm drainage.

Quality of Life – encouraging people to invest volunteer time and money into our community — we benefit tremendously from the generosity of our citizens who choose to raise private money for desirable improvements rather than insist on local government spending, which could trigger a tax increase if it goes too far.

If I’ve overlooked any groups here, I apologize. it is not intentional, and there are so many good causes and generous people in our community I’m sure I’ve missed something. Thank you for extending some grace here.

I consider it a responsibility and privilege to work in these areas on behalf of the citizens. My time on the commission has been like being back in grad school as I work to learn all the ins and outs, but the friendships and challenge make it well worth it.

As always, I value your perspective and feedback, and you can reach me at either if it’s not “on fire” and 615-917-1384 (voice or text) if it is.

I would like to be sure to with you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a Joyous Holiday Season!

Thank you for all your help and support, and I hope to see you soon.


Brentwood Vice Mayor Nelson Andrews

Nelson Andrews
Vice Mayor
City of Brentwood
“From Brentwood, For Brentwood”


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