Mt. Juliet’s search for new public parks hit another snag last week as neither of two sales agreements on the table received approval from the city’s board of commissioners.
After lengthy discussion, commissioners voted Nov. 9 to hold a work session on the 30-acre Hayes property at 120 S.W. Cook Road, which would cost the city roughly $1.4 million. Mayor Ed Hagerty’s motion to purchase the Tomlinson property — 57 acres of land on Beckwith Road at $975,000 — died for lack of a second.
The Hayes property is being more strongly considered because it borders the Providence Central development. However, a buyback clause returning it to the family if it is renamed or used for something other than a park sparked some concerns.
“I don’t want to tie up a commission that’s 15 years from now,” Hagerty said. “We’ve tied their hands in some way, and maybe Providence Central develops in a way that we don’t envision and it doesn’t make sense to do what we’re talking about tonight.”
Landowner Jeremy Hayes said he would be willing to compromise with the city by requiring the name and land use for only a 15-year period, and the commission amended the sales agreement to reflect that.
“This was property that goes back to my great-grandparents,” he said. “With everything being built up around it, it’s just a way to honor my family — honor my grandfather specifically — and always have a park there.”
Other concerns included the city’s ability to provide access to the property and the number of acres that could be used as building space.
“I like the property, but 10 acres of it is tied up in easements,” Mt. Juliet Parks Director Roger “Rocky” Lee said. “That’s something I want to step back and look at, that cuts it down to 20 acres. Access point is we’re going to have to build a half-a-million dollar bridge to access this ramp, unless we wait until Providence Central comes in … which I’ve talked to the city manager, could be 10 years from now.”
Lee said his vision for the park includes hiking trails, bike trails and greenways rather than structures like a community center.
“It’s going to be something, if you would, more like a central park with industrial concepts around it,” he said. “You could come during lunch or something and walk, and pavilions and stuff like that would be basically what we’d be putting there with the easements and stuff we have in place.”
District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Milele, whose district includes the Hayes property, said that differs from her own hopes for a park in the area.
“What I’m interested in is something comparable to Charlie Daniels Park,” she said. “A community center, tennis courts, maybe even a racquetball court.”
Commissioners are planning to take a closer look at the potential land uses and the sales agreement during the upcoming work session. A date for that meeting has not been set, but the motion requires it to be within the next four weeks.
The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners’ next regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 at the city’s administration building, located at 2425 N. Mt. Juliet Road. It will be the first meeting led by Mayor-elect James Maness.