Possible graves at Greer Stadium call for reassessment of plans

It’s back to the drawing board for how to use the Greer Stadium site now that Cloud Hill Partnership has withdrawn from the proposed private-public redevelopment.

Citing several issues, including the appropriate yet still “uncertain approach to archaeology based on the recent report released by the city,” Cloud Hill Partnership principal Bert Mathews announced the withdrawal after concluding the proposal “is no longer viable.”

Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research (TVAR) released a final report on the survey that shows there are areas along the periphery of the property that have undisturbed soils. Combined with the historical record indicating that impressed slaves were likely buried in these areas during the construction of Fort Negley, it is highly likely that human remains are still present in these areas.

In their report, TVAR recommends, “that a portion of the project area be protected, with no land alterations taking place. It is suggested that this portion be reintegrated into Fort Negley Park.”

“The likelihood of graves means that we should reassess plans for this site so as to better honor and preserve the history of the men and women who died in the construction of a fort that helped save the Union,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “As we move forward, I want to see that whatever happens with the Greer Stadium site will honor that history, while bringing the community together around a shared vision. I have faith in the ability of all stakeholders to work together to identify and coalesce around this vision.”

The mayor lauded the Cloud Hill Partnership for their willingness and desire to answer the city’s call for proposals to reimagine this underutilized property, using private dollars to meet the community’s needs.

“Nearly a year ago, the city of Nashville asked the community to present their best ideas and vision for how to use the Greer Stadium site in a way that would address many of the needs of our community, such as active park space, greenways, afford- able housing, artist and creative maker space, and more,” said Mayor Barry.

“We sincerely hope that Greer will become a place that serves the many diverse needs and interests of the surrounding neighbors and residents, and in which people from every neighborhood in Nashville will be welcome and safe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Mathews.

As a result of this decision, the original procurement process and Request for Quotations (RFQ) have been cancelled. Unless or until proper plans and approvals are made for alternative visions for this site, no park construction or demolition will take place on the Greer Stadium parcel — which is a Metro Parks property —adjacent to Fort Negley.

The Cloud Hill Partnership, a diverse team of local and national experts, led by principals T Bone Burnett, Mathews and Tom Middleton, formed to rethink the way we build communities by attracting new sources of socially minded, private capital to address the changing realities of cities in the 21st century.

Background on Greer Stadium redevelopment

In late 2016, the Metro Parks Department, Planning Department, and District 17 Council member Colby Sledge held a series of community meetings to discuss the future of the unused Greer Stadium property following construction of a new Nash- ville Sounds baseball stadium at the historic Sulphur Dell site.
The result of this process was a Request for Quotations (RFQ) to solicit proposals from the private sector for a private-public partnership that would include public park space, affordable housing, and maker space while honoring and protecting historic Fort Negley Park adjacent to Greer Stadium.
In May of 2017, the Cloud Hill Partnership, a group consisting of artist and producer T Bone Burnett, investor Tom Middleton and the Mathews Company, among others, was issued an Intent to Award following the decision of a review panel consisting of government experts and community leaders. That procurement process was placed on hold for numerous months as a result of an appeal by one of the RFQ offerors, which was subsequently dismissed. In late 2017, Mayor Barry’s administration announced they would be seeking an independent archaeological review to answer questions related to possible burial remains on the site before moving forward with any redevelopment proposal.

Wanda Southerland
Contributor to The News