Monday, December 5, 2011

Paragon Mills Park: A Review

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 6:03 AM

The playground equipment is lovely.
  • The playground equipment is lovely.
Location: Just off Nolensville Road, down Paragon Mills. Follow the signs.
Size of Park: Large
Crowds: None
Approximate Age of Patrons: My age
Topics of Conversation: "I like to go to parks before the gang members get up."
Stray Dogs Seen: None
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: Mine and then a truck
Perceived Safety: It grew lower the longer I was there
Number of Gunshots Heard: None
Dog Friendliness: High
Number of pitbulls sighted: Just mine
Accessibility: Fine
Incorporation of Local History: No intentional incorporation of local history
Recommended Patrons: People who like to remove graffiti.

In person, that last letter seemed to be a P but looking at in in the photo, it might be an A.
  • In person, that last letter seemed to be a "P" but looking at in in the photo, it might be an "A."
The longer I was at Paragon Mills Park, the more I became convinced that I was in the middle of a three-way battlefield during a lull in the action. There's graffiti everywhere — on trees, on buildings, on the basketball court — and there are the tell-tale shoes hanging from the powerlines all indicating that one gang is determined to let another gang know it sucks. (The basketball court said something like "11-15 fuck the RE (or possibly RC) 54." The tree said either "Kill P" or "Killa.")

That would be sides one and two. Side three is evidenced by the fact that the graffiti is hard to read. Someone is regularly coming around trying to remove that graffiti as quickly as it goes up. While I was there, a man, woman and child with a lawn mower and a line-layer showed up to tend the ballfields, which looked to be in great shape.

So there are non-gang members obviously determined to not give up on the park. And really, you can't blame them for not being willing to let the park go. First, the neighborhood needs a park. The houses are big for a working-class neighborhood, but the lots are small. So folks need some place to run around. Second, aside from the graffiti, the park is gorgeous. It's nestled in a hollow between two hills with a large creek that runs along the back end of the park. There are a couple of smaller creeks in the park that drain into the big creek. There are lots of trees and big grassy areas. The ball fields are in good shape and the basketball courts are okay, except for the graffiti. Plus the playground equipment looks great.

Local dog wanted to get in the creek, even though shed just had a bath.
  • Local dog wanted to get in the creek, even though she'd just had a bath.
There are a couple of strange features. Immediately when you come into the park, if you look to the left, there's some kind of small hill with, like, metal ... I don't know, silos or something embedded in it. And there's an area that's a little higher up than the main part of the park that is perfectly flat, with a bunch of evergreens whose bottom foliage has all been trimmed up to the same height. I can't explain the tree trimming, but I did wonder if there might have been an actual Paragon Mill and that flat spot was its spot. Hard saying.

But obviously, these are the kinds of strange things you should go look at, not go stay away from. So I don't know what to tell you about Paragon Mills Park. Clearly, folks are having an argument over its purpose and how welcome you might be in it. But it is a nice park, even if I was nervous the whole time I was there. I hope the graffiti removers win.

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