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Mayor Announces Plan to Acquire 600 Acres of Open Space on Stones River

12/4/2012

Property Would Create 1,500-Acre Regional Park System in Eastern Davidson County

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor Karl Dean today announced plans for the largest acquisition toward implementation of the city’s Open Space Plan of 600 acres on the Stones River and along the Stones River Greenway. Named the Stones River Farm property, it would connect three other major pieces of Metro park land and open space through greenways and waterways to establish a 1,500-acre regional park system comparable in scope to Warner Parks in west Davidson County.

“Just as city leaders had the vision to set aside park land for Centennial, Shelby, Warner and Hadley 100 years ago, preserving this vast, beautiful acreage helps establish a grand park for future generations to enjoy,” Dean said. “Nashville’s Open Space Plan identified this type of property as a high priority, and the city now has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring it into our park system.”

The Stones River Farm property was first identified in the 1990s as a green space priority for a regional park. The land features almost four miles of river frontage, including a highly scenic bend in the Stones River at its confluence with the Cumberland River.

The tract of land is adjacent to the Metro-owned Ravenwood property and is across the Cumberland River from the 648-acre Peeler Park and Taylor Farm, also owned by Metro. The park would directly serve the Donelson, Hermitage and Old Hickory communities in northeastern Davidson County, and existing greenways connect it to downtown Nashville.

Legislation is expected to be filed with the Metro Council on Friday, Dec. 7, for an option to purchase the property. A contract on the property has been negotiated and obtained by The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit organization that specializes in facilitating deals between landowners and local governments. Subject to Metro Council approval at its Dec. 18 meeting, Metro would purchase the property from The Conservation Fund in early 2013.

“Preserving the natural beauty of Stones River Farm is a project worth doing, and The Conservation Fund is proud to work with Mayor Dean, Greenways for Nashville and Metro Parks to secure the property and advance the green vision set forth in the Open Space Plan,” said Ralph Knoll, Tennessee Representative for The Conservation Fund. “Open space projects like these almost always require public-private partnerships to succeed, and we are grateful for the local support we are seeing to preserve this land for future public enjoyment.”

Mayor Dean recommended and Metro Council appropriated $15 million in Metro’s fiscal year 2013 capital spending plan for the Open Space Fund and Riverfront Redevelopment, which will finance the $8.2 million acquisition. The Conservation Fund and Greenways for Nashville are leading a private fundraising effort to help reduce the cost to Metro.

“A master plan process that includes significant community input would be the first step in preparing the property for public access,” said Tommy Lynch, director of Metro Parks and Recreation. “The park would offer a range of activities similar to what we have at other regional parks, including nature programming, recreational activities and access to waterways.”

The Stones River Farm land pulls together several pieces of Metro property into a large regional park, largely connected by the existing Stones River Greenway:

The 12-acre Stone Hall historic home area, which was acquired in 2007 and would serve as a gateway to the natural area.

The 180-acre Ravenwood Country Club property, which Metro purchased this past year.
The 648-acre Taylor Farm and Peeler Park property, which would connect by a proposed pedestrian bridge.

The 74-acre Heartland Park, which connects to the property via a greenway pedestrian bridge over the Stones River. The greenway continues to Two Rivers Park and on to the Shelby Bottoms Greenway into downtown Nashville.

The key acquisition moves Nashville forward in implementing the city’s Open Space Plan, which recommends preserving 3,000 acres over the next ten years as park land. The city’s Open Space plan, which Dean announced last year, calls for the preservation of public and private land and was a top recommendation from the Mayor’s Green Ribbon Committee on Environmental Sustainability.