Don’t abandon years of work

By Mike Jameson
Nashville, TN (March 20, 2009)- I can’t tell you what it means to constituents on both sides of the Cumberland River that Mayor Karl Dean is pledging $20 million toward the first phase of Nashville’s riverfront development. “Grateful” does not begin to convey the sentiment. And while that funding requires careful disbursement, we hope that any “reassessment” of the projects reflects the same careful considerations that informed the original plan.

Before the original plan was conceived, citizens spent years in scores of public meetings providing input on riverfront development for endless “studies.” Since 1997, seven formal studies touched upon possible designs. In 2006, a 16-month process began toward actual implementation, with public meetings, a steering committee and nationally renowned consultants. Finally, 19 agreed-upon projects along both sides of the river were proposed. This consultant process cost more than $450,000, but it was money well-spent. The plan laid out a meticulously detailed sequence, calling first for the development of an “Adventure Park & Pilot Urban Forest” on now-contaminated, unused land on the East bank.
Urban Park Envisioned
This new urban park is loaded with activities for all Nashvillians, individuals and families to enjoy regardless of age or income. It is a model of environmentalism and simply put, an amazing plan. It includes lush gardens with hollows and glades, a children’s enchanted forest, rock-climbing walls, tire swings, swinging bridges, a giant slide, a large amphitheater and lawn, overlooks, piers, restored wetlands, skating and basketball courts, multiple water features for play and enjoyment, waterfalls, fountains and spray grounds – with irrigation from recaptured stormwater, cleaned before returning to the river.
Attention was paid to the smallest detail- the lighting alone consists of solar-powered wands emitting a blue glow. The Pilot Urban Forest converts asphalt to park-able grass grids, and adds trees, setting the stage for the “greenest stadium in the country”- an initial plan to which the Titans are committed in principle. (And still my description doesn’t do justice, so visit for illustrations.)
Adventure Park was slated first for multiple reasons. Because each of the projects has integrating components, sequencing matters. But unlike the other projects, Adventure Park requires no Army Corps of Engineers water permits – a process that can cause a year or more of delay. It provides the greatest bang for the buck, generating the most activity and bringing new people to enjoy the riverfront every day. The park also provides an alternate staging area for downtown events when construction begins there. And it provides an environmental remedy, being the only project that removes a brownfield and turns it into a park.
The latest version of “Plan B” submitted by the Metro Development and Housing Agency – all of 48 hours before the March 7 community meeting- offers none of these advantages. Ostensibly prompted by a troubled economy, “Plan B” is actually more expensive and takes longer than the original plan.
A near-unanimous constituency has asked to keep the original plan. Let’s not abandon them or the public’s years of effort. Let’s stick to the plan.
Related Resources:
The Tennessean- Don’t abandon years of work