Letter to Parks Board and Council Members

The email below was sent on behalf of the Edgehill Neighborhood Coalition to Parks Director Monique Odom; Members of the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation; and Council Members Burkley Allen, John Cooper, Erica Gilmore, Freddie O’Connell, and Colby Sledge.

July 5, 2018

Subject: Belmont’s lease of more land at Rose Park

Dear Board Members of Metro Parks and Metro Councilpersons:

Councilperson Colby Sledge has filed a new amendment to lease more land at E.S. Rose Park to Belmont University for the construction of a two-story athletics building.  The Board of Metro Parks and Recreation will deliberate upon this amendment next Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

This new amendment comes after community members have repeatedly opposed the amendment’s previous version (Ordinance No. 2017-662) and asked that community concerns be taken into account. As you can see in the attached document [note: images appended below], changes to the amendment were written and finalized by Belmont University’s Jason Rogers, Vice President for Administration and University Counsel.

We oppose this amendment because it fails to incorporate community input. Instead, the amendment allows Belmont to determine the terms and conditions of the university’s further privatization of E.S. Rose Park.

This amendment places Belmont University’s wants over public interests and community needs. There were no public meetings about this Belmont athletics building before either amendment was filed. Metro Board of Parks and Recreation’s Policy Manual specifically stipulates that for public-private partnerships there should be, “in conjunction with the area council representatives, a minimum of two community meetings to ascertain the need for services identified” (Policies 3000.29).

In addition, crucial questions persist, as new issues emerge, about this project’s fundamental premises and logistical details. Questions include, but are not limited to: why is public land being leased for a private institution’s offices and meeting rooms? By what metrics was the annual lease payment of $5,000 determined for a two-story 80 foot X 135 foot building ($417 per month for 21,600 sq. ft., or two cents per sq. ft. a month)? Since the proposed building would block schoolchildren’s pathway between Rose Park Middle School and the Easley Community Center, how is this obstructed access being addressed? Why are trees removed for construction not being replaced? Why has a private institution been able to dictate and write the terms of this lease agreement, while public concerns and input have NOT been considered?

A pattern has emerged in the Edgehill area: public lands are being proposed for private use without due process and community decision making. This has occurred with Fort Negley, Tony Rose Park, Murrell School property, and E.S. Rose Park. We hope that together community members, Metro officials, and councilpersons can work to reverse this pattern and save Edgehill’s historic parks for Nashville’s public community.

Sincerely,

Edgehill Neighborhood Coalition

Lease Amendment EditsLease Amendment Edits 2