Metro Parks promises to find solution to Brookmeade Park complaints

Metro Parks and Recreation held a public meeting to discuss the ongoing issues surrounding homeless encampments inside of Brook Meade Park in West Nashville.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Metro Parks and Recreation held a public meeting Monday night to discuss the ongoing issues surrounding homeless encampments inside Brookmeade Park in West Nashville.

Several city government departments, representatives from MNPD, and community members all spoke out about the issues of the park and possible solutions for restoring the park.

Frustrated community members shared their concerns during the public comment period.

“I know that metro parks are probably frustrated with us because we continue to point out the fact that had they addressed the ordinances being broken in the early days, we wouldn’t be here now,” said Rebecca Lowe, Founder and President of Reclaim Brook Meade Park.

Others shared concerns regarding the growing piles of trash, grocery carts, and drug use in the area.

“We live downriver, and the trash is unreal,” said one resident.

The topics during Monday night’s metro parks meeting were restoring the park, finding housing solutions for the homeless in the encampments, and figuring out how to do all of this simultaneously.

“It is our, the department, the board position that we want to house first. We want to be a good partner, but at the end of the day, metro parks are the property owner at the end of the day. We can’t build houses, we cannot provide counseling, and we can’t provide those services that are needed. We can definitely do clean-ups,” Michelle Steele, Metropolitan Parks, and Recreation Board Chair.

Some council members say they want to continue spending the $50 million of Covid relief funds to pour into solutions for the homeless, but they say how the funds will be used critically.

“I think where we are stepping up to lead is to say, wait a minute, how? How should we spend that? What programming? Are we making sure that if we are providing housing, we are providing wrap-around services because you cannot put a roof over an issue? You have to solve the issue,” said Councilwoman Courtney Johnston.

“I do believe that we want things better for our city. And we’re all going to have to work at it, but I don’t think this one time $50 million is the answer,” said Sharon Hurt, Council Member At-Large.

Many in attendance agreed that there need to be wrap-around services, permanent housing, and mental health programs in place to help the homeless population. Members of the metro board and council members ended the meeting with hope, saying this is the first time in a long time that many departments and the public have come together to fix this issue.

“A lot of collaboration will need to happen. A lot of communication and as Miss Bryd said and a plan and how do we work with them,” said Michelle Steele, Metropolitan Parks, and Recreation Board Chair.

Metro Parks and Rec Board will review all the issues, possible solutions, and plans and develop a solution working with all partnered city-government stakeholders.