Location: Along Woodland in East Nashville
Size of Park: Generously medium
Approximate Age of Patrons: All ages
Topics of Conversation: "Did you see me stick my foot in that? You're my witness for Pith readers that I try stuff out." "I don't read Pith." "Oh, well ... "
Stray Dogs Seen: None
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: None. Most people seem to have walked
Perceived Safety: High
Number of Gunshots Heard: None
Dog Friendliness: Seems like a good park for a small dog
Number of pitbulls sighted: None
Incorporation of Local History: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
Recommended Patrons: Folks who like parks for strolling and playing baseball and watching kids play.
That's how East Park made me feel, at first (notice the foreshadowing, gentle reader). There are huge beautiful roses and an awesome community center and the playground equipment is in great shape. The swings have soft rubber all underneath them and there's this big metal climbing thing that looks like Midas and Spiderman collaborated on it. And there are wide open swaths of grass. And everywhere you turn there's another beautiful old Victorian house or Gothic church to look at and the hills in the distance are amazing and the ballfield ...
Oh, the ballfield. The bases were in excellent condition. The dirt was that perfect tan you dream about in the middle of winter. And the benches in the dugout ...
Yeah. And that's when it hit me. The benches in the dugout are awesome too. Some kids have to sit on scrap lumber screwed to plumbing. And the kids who play ball at East Park get to sit on metal benches with backs.
It's not right that East Park has well-manicured roses and benches in the dugout that mean a dad doesn't have to fear for his kid's safety when his kid is sitting there — while Douglas Park not three blocks away was (when I went there last month) unmowed, full of poison ivy, and had shitty dugout benches I could have made ... and I'm no carpenter, to put it mildly.
When I started this project, I thought the thing that would get on my nerves is the disparity in the incorporation of local history. But I was wrong. It'd be nice if there were more, but, fine, they could fix that by including that stuff on the Metro Parks website.
But this issue — of parks in less desirable neighborhoods not being provided the same level of care as parks in more desirable areas?
That is unacceptable.
I mean, I don't know what more to say about it than that — it is unacceptable that parks in less desirable neighborhoods are neglected. Every park should be mowed regularly. Every park that has a ballfield should have a ballfield with the same standard of equipment as every other park.
If the city doesn't have enough money to keep all the parks in good condition, all the parks should reflect that. By presenting decent parks to people in affluent neighborhoods while letting parks in neighborhoods without that kind of capital (political or otherwise), the city is forcing poor neighborhoods to shoulder more than their share of the burden for the shortfalls in Metro Parks. In effect, they're lying to people in rich neighborhoods by presenting them with beautiful, well-maintained parks that make it seem that everything is OK with our park system — when it is clearly not.