Nashville made the best choice in Greer redevelopment
The Tennessean – Wes Chapman
I’ve watched with increasing interest the progress of the public/private partnership known as Cloud Hill, the redevelopment of the Greer Stadium site.
Reading the request for quotation put out by the city for this development, it is very clear that the objective is to maximize the value to the city, by combining three goals: Affordable housing, development of urban parks and historical preservation.
Metro relied heavily on the expressed wishes of the neighboring communities and the needs of Nashville. The Cloud Hill Partnership won because it best met these community requirements.
First, it is critically important not to ignore the affordable housing requirement associated with this site development – the neighborhood will really benefit from it. Cloud Hill fully integrates with Mayor Megan Barry’s Housing Priorities and Action Plan. In direct accord with best practices in the housing industry, Cloud Hill offers a tiered approach to housing alternatives in its planned 294 housing units based on ability to pay: one-third affordable, one-third workforce and one-third market rate.
At every turn, I’ve found the park-only plan wanting – it ignores the community’s wants and desires and the huge volume of excellent work done by Metro personnel in developing plans and priorities for both parks and housing. The various park-only plans have no committed funding, so any funds to build and maintain the park will need to come out of Metro’s budget. The amounts that I have seen indicate a total cost of $10 million to $20 million, or around $500,000 to $1 million per acre.
Such a plan would bust the next 10 years of community parks for the rest of Nashville at a single stroke.
The challenges of historical preservation at the Greer Stadium location inextricably tie Fort Negley and African-American history. Fort Negley is, in simplest terms, a historical artifact, never really engaged in battle and abandoned to ruin at the end of the Civil War. Today, Fort Negley is one of the least-visited parts of the parks program, and is very expensive to maintain and operate – costing the city $31 for every visitor.
Fort Negley gains historical significance when considered in the fundamental motivations of the Union soldiers, and why they were here in the first place.
I have only been a resident of the wonderful city of Nashville for five years, coming originally from Maine. I am the namesake (mercifully gender adjusted) of Maria Weston Chapman, a noted abolitionist and familial antecedent, and was raised on the lore and letters of dozens of family members who fought in the Civil War.
The history of Fort Negley further conflates (and confuses) the motivations of the Union troops, when considering the sacrifices of conscripted African American labor used to build it. I would respectfully suggest that the City might consider the dedication of Fort Negley to honoring the history of the struggle for the liberation and equality of African Americans in Nashville. It was to that cause that Union soldiers stationed there entered the struggle, a struggle with different actors and methods, but exactly the same goals over 150 years later.
The Cloud Hill proposal delivers about $101 million to develop the site, and provides for a regular income stream to maintain the park and facilities. Governing is the art of balancing conflicting priorities with limited resources to achieve the most desirable outcome, enduring over the longest period of time, for the most people. Cloud Hill can become a living legacy, honoring the goals and intentions of the builders of Fort Negley and the ongoing struggle to achieve them.