The Mayor's Office has issued a stock response to community members' concerns –
1 – "Community Engagement Sessions"
There were only two such meetings and they were held back in September 2016.
2 – "More green space, affordable housing, and greenways"
While any new plan will include greenways, if greenspace and affordable housing were truly priorities, then the second place finisher, OneC1TY should have been awarded the contract as their plan offered 50% more greenspace and more than twice as much affordable housing.
3 – "A review panel which included neighborhood representation"
4 of the 7 members of the review committee were employees of Mayor Barry's administration. Friends of Fort Negley did have one representative on the committee, but as stated in our letter to the Mayor on February 27, 2017, "We (FOFN) oppose handing over public parkland for private development."
4 – 60% open and green space"
What guarantees are in place to ensure this ratio is maintained? Any additional parking or construction would necessarily come out of open and greenspace. What oversight is in place to make sure greenspace is preserved?
5 – Metro Historic Zoning Commission
At which point in the process will Metro Historic Zoning Commission review the plan? Fort Negley is a part of a Historic Landmark District. How will this be affected by the development?
Frequently Asked –
"It's only 21 acres"
True, however, these are really the last 21 acres of parkland downtown. When Metro decided to develop the Gulch and SoBro, neither got the park they were promised. The proposed plan would only leave 8 acres to public greenspace.
"It will help the neighborhood to have some shops"
We agree! However, we don't believe that saving Fort Negley Park and neighborhood development are mutually exclusive. Private developers are already buying and building housing and shops in the neighborhood. Metro government does not need to come in and give away our parkland in order to boost development in a neighborhood that is already booming. This land is valued by the property assessor's office between $35-42 million dollars, but Metro is giving it away for a pittance to the benefit of the developers. We can cherish our parkland, and have development in the neighborhood.
"Just because it happens to Fort Negley Park, why would it happen elsewhere?"
Unfortunately, this is a national trend. As the Washington Post recently reported, President Trump's administration wants to scale back Bears Ears national monument in Utah despite its historic significance.
As Nashville continues to grow and expand, more and more parkland will come under attack as the pressure to build more housing also increases. We should not set the precedent that trading parkland for condos is an acceptable practice.