NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Some neighbors near Brookmeade Park worry a new plan to reopen the area won’t be enough to keep the unhoused from moving back in—a problem they spent years fighting to fix.
Eight months ago, Brookmeade Park shut down indefinitely so the city could clean up the homeless encampment that plagued the area for more than a decade.
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During a recent Metro Board of Parks and Recreation meeting, designers with Gresham Smith presented its master plan to reopen Brookmeade Park, which included restoring the parking lot and signage, removing graffiti and invasive weeds, and replacing the wooden lookout.
The plan took around eight months to complete, and it cost the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation $172,000 so far, according to officials.
Reclaim Brookmeade Park board member and neighbor, Tim Tomes, and other residents expressed their disappointment with the amount of work that was accomplished, despite the large amount of money and time spent on the plan so far.
“Twenty percent of what was given to the parks department from the beginning, 20% of that was spent on basically, in my opinion, being shown a Google Earth picture that we’ve had in our pockets for over two years,” Tomes said. “This park and greenway was given to our local government for $1, and this is how it still looks after being neglected for 15 years.”
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Tomes told News 2 the designers from Gresham Smith never asked the public for their suggestions or feedback on the plan, despite a line item on the company’s invoice charging the city more than $30,000 for a “master plan with public engagement.”
Gresham Smith designers told the Parks and Recreation Board they were waiting to ask for public feedback closer to the reopening date.
However, Parks and Recreation board member, Pete Delay, said he doesn’t blame the neighbors for being frustrated and called the process “inordinately slow.”
“We burdened the neighborhood by having a homeless encampment there, then we’re sort of adding insult to injury by this protracted process by which we restore it to any level,” DeLay said.
Tomes believes reopening Brookmeade Park should be the Parks and Recreation Department’s number one priority. He not only wants to see the area renovated, but revamped with additional features to draw the public to the park, including picnic tables and a gazebo.
He worries under the current reopening plan, the unhoused will move back in within a week.
“I believe and the neighbors believe it’s the least this park deserves; it’s the least the community deserves,” Tomes said. “Our concern is that if you don’t do something to this, and you leave it like it is, then the homeless that have been here, we already know some are wanting to come back.”
The city estimates it’ll take at least another year before Brookmeade Park can reopen. The Parks and Recreation Board is waiting on Metro’s Finance Committee to release a bid. Once a bid is approved, renovations can begin.
The board plans to set a date for a community meeting to get feedback from neighbors by the end of this week.