Edgehill residents' year-long battle
to block Belmont University from developing a multi-million dollar sportsplex in Rose Park could end this afternoon when the proposal comes before the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation. While Belmont's desire to funnel nearly $7 million into the dilapidated park to build facilities worthy of NCAA Division I play seems like a good deal, residents of the historically black neighborhood are cynical. They fear that Belmont will soon take over the park—and their community.
Those close to the issue expect the board's vote to end the neighborhood's efforts to thwart Belmont's plan. But the residents won't go out without a fight. One neighborhood group, the Organized Neighbors of Edgehill, has called for a postponement of the vote. And a representative from the group—armed with a petition signed by more than 325 Edgehill residents in opposition to the proposal—will join two other neighborhood leaders to address the board today.
But the board is expecting that much. What the parks department doesn't know is that several Edgehill residents have also enlisted Nashville attorney Joe Johnston to draft an administrative complaint that could (at the very least) tie up the development in Metro red tape, even if the board approves the proposal.
In an interview with the Scene
, Johnson says he's representing two female property owners and longtime Edgehill residents who live within several hundred feet of the park. He says his clients fear Belmont's proposal will generate traffic and parking problems that could endanger the safety of children and others who frequent the park.
"This is going to be controversial," Johnson says. "There is a large segment of the population in Nashville who are your average sports fan. They don't care what it costs or who has to pay as long as they can enjoy the entertainment benefits of sports. But Belmont can well afford to purchase it's own property without calling upon Edgehill to sacrifice its community park."Update
: The Metro Board of Parks and Recreation unanimously approved Belmont's proposal to revamp Rose Park. The university's plan will now go before the Metro Planning Commission and the Metro Council for approval. Now that the parks board has made its decision, attorney Joe Johnston has told the Scene
that he will be conferring with his clients and looking further into filing the administrative complaint.