Councilwoman makes plea for Antioch community center, park

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 6:22pm

Karen Johnson was sworn into the Metro Council only a week ago, but she’s already making a plea that’s been at the forefront of concerns for Antioch residents for years: Bring a new community center and park space to southeast Davidson County — by far Nashville’s fastest growing area.

Johnson, the former school board member elected in August to fill the council’s District 29 seat, appeared before the nine-member Metro Department of Parks and Recreation board Tuesday morning to highlight the urgency to bring recreational opportunities, community space and public investment to Antioch, specifically the area east of Murfreesboro Pike.

"We are the only area of Davidson County where we don’t have recreational outlets for our children and families,” Johnson told the parks board.

“We want to be able to provide a center or place where families will go safely and be able to recreate and have community meetings,” she said. “I beg of you to please do what is possible.”

To accommodate a new community center, Johnson requested the parks board consider purchasing what she described as approximately 100 acres at 171 Bell Road near the intersection of Nashboro Boulevard. She said the property, located near the Nashboro Village Apartments complex and a golf course, is currently for sale.

Johnson also asked board members to look at 2084 Smith Springs Road as an opportunity to acquire land that could go toward Mayor Karl Dean’s open space plan, which seeks to preserve thousands of acres of land that could otherwise be developed.

“This would be a good area to advance walking initiatives, exercising and enjoying space with their families,” Johnson said, adding the space is also well equipped to feature a dog park.

Antioch already has one community center at 5032 Blue Hole Road, but the building is far from the Bell Road parcels Johnson described.

Dean’s administration last year unveiled a plan for a revamped Hickory Hollow Mall, which included several new public utilities, anchored by a new community center and relocated fairgrounds expo center. A plan to lease the mall space fell apart when Dean backed away from his fairgrounds redevelopment plans. 

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said the city is now in conversations about acquiring — not leasing — the mall building last occupied by JC Penney to house a regional community center. Combined with a new Nashville State Community College satellite campus, he said its addition would help “rejuvenate” the struggling mall, which CBL & Associates Properties Inc. owns.

“We’re continuing to look at all the issues associated with real estate,” Riebeling said. “We’re moving forward with looking at potentially purchasing the Penny’s building.”

Riebeling said a proposal for the Hickory Hollow community center could go before the council this fall.

But even if the Hickory Hollow community center were to come to fruition, Johnson said the project would only partially meet the area’s demand, adding that the area to the east of Murfreesboro Pike needs aggressive exploration.

Tommy Lynch, the park department’s interim director, said Metro’s Parks and Greenways Master Plan has identified the need for three additional community centers in southeast Davidson County.

Lynch also said Johnson’s request for more open space is consistent with the department’s desires. He said officials are already looking at available open land in Antioch. 

“Her request is totally in line with the open space plan,” Lynch said. “It’s been identified as an area for us to look for property.”

Given the area’s growth, parks board member James Lawson said the board should “seriously consider” making greater investments in southeast Davidson County.

“It is sorely needed,” Lawson said. 

8 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 9/6/11 at 8:13

good luck with that. Maybe take pictures of the properties and photoshop pictures of downtown high rises and rotting honky tonks? The Deaniacs will see the pictures, assume it is a tourism venture instead of something for Nashvillians, and throw lots of money at it.

By: sidneyames on 9/7/11 at 6:25

Karen, please. We need sidewalks for people to move about safely, not parks to have thugs and graffatti in. Please. Sidewalks.

By: govskeptic on 9/7/11 at 6:27

So, this very intelligent new Council lady request a Community center and
the Interim director says they have identified the need for three. Why not just
concentrate on one? I'm sure the mayor will want to assist his Hickory Hollow
developer supporters by suggesting this community center go into some building
within that center.

By: sidneyames on 9/7/11 at 1:13

NO we need sidewalks.

By: macjedi on 9/7/11 at 3:44

Sounds like another great reason to close down the existing Fairgrounds and move the Flea Market to Hickory Hollow!

By: las04 on 9/7/11 at 4:20

macjedi.....YOU MUST HAVE MISSED THE RESULTS OF THE REFERENDUM VOTE. We voted to keep the Fairgrounds with an over whelming majority vote of 70% in favor. What rock have you been under, this issue was shut down almost one year ago as far as the flea market being moved to HH Mall. Get caught up on what's going on in your town before you speak.

By: sidneyames on 9/8/11 at 7:35

This would be a good area to advance walking initiatives, exercising and enjoying space with their families,” Johnson said, adding the space is also well equipped to feature a dog park.

SIDEWALKS would also be good for walking; especially for mother's pushing baby carriages down Hamilton Church to Walmart to get groceries; or to Walgreens for prescriptions. SIDEWALKS PLEASE!

By: bfra on 9/8/11 at 1:38

What good are sidwalks in that area unless they get rid of the ILLEGALS & thugs. Mother pushing baby carriage, until she gets a gun poked in her ribs and they take everything she has. Same for anyone else, minding their business & just walking in the area. READ & WATCH the news!