Park-Only Versus Cloud Hill

Recently, Jessica Bliss of The Tennessean wrote an article titled “Nashville has plenty of land for parks but paying for and developing them is another matter” that explored the costs associated with Metro turning the Greer Stadium area into a park versus the Cloud Hill proposal.

The article provides helpful insight about what a “park-only” plan for the Greer site would look like in terms of cost, maintenance, approvals, etc. Kim Hawkins, a principal of landscape architecture firm Hawkins Partners and a member of the Cloud Hill team, states in the story that “a high-amenity park can cost more than $1.5 million per acre to develop.”

Given that Greer Stadium is a 21-acre site, the cost of a “park-only” plan would be more than $22 million.

That cost estimate does not include the cost of future maintenance that would be required. The $22 million figure also does not include the cost of building additional structures on the property, like a museum or memorial, which has been proposed by those who want it to be park-only.

There is also a larger economic impact of creating a multi-use space here. Cloud Hill is a job creator for the community. We estimate that Cloud Hill will create 715 construction jobs, totaling $37.4 million in construction wages. It will create 600 permanent jobs, as well, that will total $20.3 million in annual wages and income.

Cloud Hill is also a revenue generator for Nashville. The city would receive at least $2.6 million a year through tax revenues and charges for service for the duration of the 99-year lease.

A 21-acre Metro park would be supported by new Metro Parks jobs, putting more pressure on the city budget.

Finally and most importantly, if Metro makes it a priority to turn Greer into a park, what will that mean for other proposed parks in the city? It means they will be pushed down the list of spending priorities. There are many other neighborhoods that are in desperate need of new services and capital improvements for their existing parks. They would have to wait. And if a park-only option at Greer is NOT made a priority over all other projects, the area will continue to deteriorate while waiting to make it to the top of the list, which could take decades.

Plan To Play, the Parks Department’s vision for Nashville for the next 10 years, does not address any funding or master planning for the park-only option here for a reason.

As Tim Netsch, assistant director of the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation, says in the story, “We are trying to focus on areas unserved or underserved. That (Greer Stadium) area is actually doing pretty well if you look at service radius around each park in terms of lands.”

When we talk about the value of a place and improving the quality of life for the people of our city, we need to think about it in a way that encompasses all facets of what makes a city great, from greenspace to affordability, to economic opportunity for the communities that need it most.

william rosenthal