Ft. Negley Park (aka “the post you can’t even name without taking sides”)

Over the next six months, the Council will be asked to take positions on several important issues. Before these debates come to a head, I want to share my current thoughts about each of them. This post is about the commercial development proposed for Ft. Negley Park. I have also posted separately about the possibility of a soccer stadium and a transit referendum.

There is ongoing debate about what should happen with Greer Stadium. This is one of those debates where no side is willing to even agree to the language used to describe the problem.

Saying “Ft. Negley Park” instantly suggests that you are opposed to any commercial development on the site of Greer Stadium, which is physically located in Ft. Negley Park. Or, it at least says that you don’t want development to happen as currently proposed.

Using “St. Cloud Hill” or more frequently “Cloud Hill” instantly says you are refusing to use the word “Negley” in an effort to deflect from the historical significance of the fort on top of the hill and/or the encampments and potential graves on the southerly slopes of the hill.

I am using “Ft. Negley Park” because I had to choose one. And, that is the name of the property. And, I do oppose the development happening as proposed.

I have looked at period drawings and photos. I have looked at topographical maps of the hill and surrounding slopes. It seems clear to me that one of two things is true — either the remains of a Civil War-era African American encampment and possibly graves are under some portion of the stadium and its parking lots, or those remains were removed when the stadium and parking lots were first built.

I think figuring this out is too historically and culturally sensitive to outsource. Metro should do the archeology itself to figure out what physical or human remains exist before signing any contracts for what happens with this site.

I am not dead set against any development on the site. It has after all already been a baseball stadium for decades. However, Nashville deserves a clear, complete answer about what is on the site before making any decisions about a planned 99 year lease.

Finally, for your information, here is the letter the five At-Large Council members sent to the Mayor about this issue last month. And here is her response to us.

Bob Mendes

Bob Mendes represents all of Nashville as a Council-At-Large member of Nashville’s Metro Council. He is Chair of the Council’s Charter Revision Committee, a member of the Metropolitan Audit Committee, and a member of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, Rules & Confirmations Committee, and Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee. Bob also practices business law at Waypoint Law PLLC. Bob’s complete bio is here. You can follow Bob @mendesbob.