NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Restoration efforts in Brookmeade Park are underway nine months after it was shut down and the homeless encampment that took over the area for years was cleared out—but some neighbors worry if their input about park improvements isn’t considered, the unhoused will move back in as they’ve already been trying to do.
“There are people that used to live here that want to come back here,” Tim Tomes, neighbor and member of Reclaim Brookmeade Park said.
Tomes told News 2 he’s seen people go as far as digging under the tall, chain link fence to try to get back inside the park. He has also noticed new unhoused individuals frequenting the area.
He worries if Brookmeade Park is restored under the architect company, Gresham Smith’s current master plan, which includes repairing signage, repaving the parking lot, and replacing a wooden lookout, it will invite the unhoused back in. “It will be just like it was within a week.”
Tomes and his neighbors want the city to consider adding new elements like picnic tables, a pavilion, and a kayak ramp to draw the public to the park and keep the unhoused out.
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However, multiple weeks have passed since the Parks and Recreation board held a community engagement meeting to collect public feedback, and Tomes said it’s been crickets from the city since. “The bottom line is we’re taxpayers, and we’ve done a lot of work here, and we should be able to communicate with the parks department.”
In addition, neighbors worry about the security of the park if it reopens under the current restoration plan.
“We’re big supporters of the police and the park police and all of that, we don’t want to sound like we’re saying anything bad about the park police, but they get off at 5 o’clock, so who is going to monitor the park after 5 p.m. if it’s put back like it was?” Tomes said. “Who is going to be here to monitor it to make sure it doesn’t get like it was previously.”
On Friday, Metro Parks and Recreation employees were seen surveilling the fresh layer of concrete on the pathway leading to the park.
Officials with Metro Parks told News 2 Brookmeade Park could be fully restored and ready to reopen by next fall, but the project could take even longer depending on construction schedules and other factors. It’s unclear if the city will consider any of the public feedback received at the community engagement meeting.