Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation is planning to construct a small “pocket park” in North Nashville. The project is part of the city's 10-year Greenway's Master Plan to increase the number of green spaces across the city.
Located at Jefferson and 16th street, this pocket park, which is defined as being 3 acres or less, will have just .35 acres. But it is planned to be packed with shaded play areas, a pavilion for social gatherings and field space for sports: A sharp contrast to its unsightly neighbor — Interstate 40.
But, designers say they aren’t necessarily trying to cover the highway up. Rather, they want to use the layout of the park to highlight the neighborhood's history.
The site is in the middle of a once thriving center of African-American business and culture. So Richie Jones, a lead designer on the project, says he wants the interstate to be visible to educate visitors on the impacts of gentrification.
While the back of the park will be surrounded by a wall, he says there will be a break in it to show the highway. He says the wall will be, "overlayed with maybe a map of what the neighborhood used to be before the interstate, so you’re sort of forced to look at what the interstate has done."
Residents appear to welcome the project. But at a recent community meeting, attendee Michael Ewing said planners ought to be careful to make sure the neighborhood’s history is represented with positivity.
"Anytime you have these landmarks or space that deal a lot with history, sometimes they can become trauma spaces. I’m just more concerned about the narrative and how it’s told in a way that creates the future," he said.
Currently, the city boasts about 56 acres of pocket parks. The master plan aims to add 37 more of them, as part of an effort to provide parks in underserved areas around built-up parts of the city.
Designers say they will continue work with the community on the site and and hope to begin construction next year, once they secure more funding.