Letter to Council Member Bob Mendes

From: Edgehill Neighborhood Coalition <edgehillneighborhoodcoalition@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 at 11:11 AM
Subject: proposed Rose Park lease amendment
To: <bob.mendes@nashville.gov>
Cc: Joel Dark, King Hollands, Avy Long, Cynthia Clark Matthews, Joe Staler, Ben Tran, Adam LaFevor

Dear Council Member Mendes,

We are writing to request an opportunity to meet with you regarding the Rose Park lease amendment recently filed with the Metro Council and scheduled for first reading on Tuesday.

Because of the first reading tomorrow, as well as possible committee reviews this week, we are eager to be flexible in meeting at a time convenient for you.

As you are probably aware, Edgehill residents and neighborhood organization leaders have been working for over two years to oppose changes to the Rose Park lease driven by the demands of Belmont University for additional public land.

Council support for Edgehill, including strong statements by former at-large members John Cooper and Erica Gilmore, has been vital in neighborhood efforts to protect the park. This support has also anticipated in practice issues central to the recent Metro elections and the renewed commitment of the Metro government to neighborhoods, parks, fiscal responsibility, and transparency.

It is clear that you share these values — both based on your previous record as a Council member and based on statements during your campaign. At Edgehill Community Day in Rose Park itself this summer, you spoke of the importance of at-large Council members being able to say, “Slow up. Let’s talk about this more.” when faced with “something that feels like it’s getting crammed through.”

To say that Edgehill has experienced Belmont’s building proposal as “something that feels like it’s getting crammed through” would be a radical understatement. Mayor Cooper has publicly described the first proposal  in 2017 as “deceptive,” and many further deceptions and obfuscations have been been employed since to circumvent neighborhood opposition and public scrutiny. We have clear and disturbing documentation of these actions.

Council support — and especially at-large Council support — was vital in preventing the filing of an earlier version of the lease amendment now before the Council.
Although the new amendment shifts the proposed building from public park property to public school property, it is significantly worse in that it exceeds the period of the 2007 lease by about 20 years and gives full scheduling rights to Belmont. These objectionable terms were added late last year in a process of which we were kept unaware — and of which our school board representatives, when asked, were also unaware.

The Rose Park page of the Edgehill Neighborhood Coalition website provides a partial record of recent neighborhood efforts to protect Rose Park as well as information about the history of the park and the 2007 lease. We are continuing to add to the page, and we are glad to share any additional information.

Speaking before the Parks Board last year, then at-large Council Member Cooper advocated “going slow … to bring a big, inclusive vision to Rose Park.” Although we are urgently concerned about the amendment before the Council, we recognize that your statements this summer echo very closely this approach to issues as critical as Rose Park, its importance to Edgehill, and its place in a larger vision for Nashville’s parks. Along with our concerns, we are therefore also excited about sharing our hopes and ideas.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,

The Edgehill Coalition Rose Park Committee
Joel Dark, Edgehill Neighborhood CoalitionKing Hollands, Board Member, Organized Neighbors of Edgehill
Cynthia Matthews, Board Member, Edgehill Neighborhood Partnership
Avy Long, Edgehill Neighborhood CoalitionJoe Staler, Board Member, Organized Neighbors of Edgehill
Ben Tran, Edgehill Village Neighbors Association

Adam LaFevor, Attorney for the Organized Neighbors of Edgehill