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Council approves west side park design

Xavier Smith • Apr 18, 2017 at 8:51 PM

The Lebanon City Council unanimously approved plans Tuesday for a park on the west side of the city after task force members shared their thoughts on the plans and their involvement.

The council approved a loan agreement for up to $5 million for the park last year after Councilor Rick Bell and his family donated 15 acres for the park adjacent to the Hamilton Springs development.

Lebanon Finance Commissioner Robert Springer said last year the resolutions authorize a 25-year, fixed rate loan and the estimated debt service annually would be approximately $250,000 if the council approved to spend the entire $5 million. Springer said the interest rate would be 2.29 percent and subject to change every five years.

Seven of the nine task force members expressed their thoughts about the project and their involvement on the task force. Members MJ Lucas and Amber Hurdle were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Mayor Bernie Ash’s appointees on the task force – Paul Gould, Barbara Payne and Traci Peel – spoke out against different aspects of the park. Peel voiced her concerns during Monday’s council work session and Tuesday’s regular meeting, stating she felt the council is spending too much for the park.

Councilor Joey Carmack responded that the council had already voted on funding.

“This park needs to be built. This park needs to be built for about $2 million,” Gould said.

Gould said the task force never received a final cost estimate for the park plans and said some members of the task force never voted on the final plans.

Task force Chair JeniLind Brinkman said on Monday that the task force unanimously voted to send the designs to the city council for consideration. Two task force members were absent during the voting, and a third left the meeting before the vote. 

Brinkman said, after modifications, the park is estimated to cost about $2.9 million. Amenities include over a mile of walking trails, wide greenway paths, small and large dog parks, playground and sitting areas, amphitheater, boardwalk and more.

Other task force members said they favored the plans.

“If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right. Let’s not put a couple of swings and a merry-go-round on it. Let’s put something we can be proud of. Great cities have great parks. I was always told everybody ought to plant a tree they won’t be able to sit on,” Ken Davis said.

“I’d like us to approve this park and get it built,” Adam Pastors said.

“The point I feel needs to be made is we were able to take a lot of information, put it together and I feel comfortable with the recommendation that we agreed and voted on,” T.O. Cragwall said.

Brinkman said she felt she gave task force members equal opportunity to voice their concerns, but said she did not want one voice to outweigh the group. She spoke about the park during last month’s public input meeting.

“One thing we really want to point out about this design is that it really works with the topography of that acreage, instead of against it,” Brinkman said during the meeting.

She said sloped areas would feature components that work with the angles, such as a small amphitheater, while flat areas would feature compatible aspects, such as a dog park.

The group started its task in February as it visited five Middle Tennessee parks to get some ideas about the future park. Lucas said the task force assessed parks in Downtown Nashville and Antioch, along Percy Priest Lake and more. 

Resident Jim Dunn also offered his thoughts on the park and task force during Tuesday’s meeting. Dunn said the issue started with what appeared to be a sudden rush for council to approve the park plans before last year’s municipal elections.

He said after Ash vetoed the plans to proceed with the park, many people were surprised to learn the council could override Ash’s veto at the ensuing council meeting.

“When we’re doing these kind of things, meet with the people first, tell them what you want to do, show them your plans, how much it’s going to cost and I believe everybody would vote for it. We wouldn’t go through such a terrible mess like we’ve had to go through if we started it off right,” Dunn said.

 

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