Nashville Mayor David Briley has made his first major announcement on the job — a proposal to demolish Greer Stadium and restore the land for reintegration into Fort Negley Park.
The Tennessean reported the story Tuesday, adding the new mayor needs to ask Metro Council for $1 million to demolish the old stadium and begin restoring the property as a park.
The funds “would come from the city’s 4% reserve fund through a request to the Metro Council in April,” according to a statement on the city’s website. “Following the demolition, the property will be seeded with grass while the Metro Historical Commission produces a Cultural Landscape Report that will help inform decisions by the Metro Parks Board about how best to turn this space into an active park that honors the history of the site.”
Learotha Williams, a professor of black history at Tennessee State University, hailed Briley’s move. On Twitter, he said, “this is, without doubt, a tremendous first step at honoring those Tennesseans who first tasted freedom here.”
Briley tweeted a statement that said, in part, “We owe that to their memory, and we owe it to history — our shared history as a city and community that need to be intentional and thoughtful about racial reconciliation.”
According to the Fort Negley Master Plan, the fort “appears to be the only stone fortification erected specifically for use during the Civil War.”
The Union army used the fort to defend occupied Nashville and for serving as a launching point for a final assault against Georgia and the Carolinas.
“The fort is a fragile dry stacked stone structure atop one of the highest hills in Nashville” and faces the possibility of structural failure.
An advisory committee in 2007 assembled by the Metro Parks Department updated the 1996 Fort Negley Master Plan to propose demolishing the former Nashville Sounds stadium once it was vacant, according to the city’s statement. Regular use of the stadium ended after the Sounds minor league baseball team moved to First Tennessee Park after the 2014 season.
Barry ended her private development plans “after an archaeological review found considerable undisturbed soils, which the historic record indicates could contain the remains of slaves and freed African-Americans who were impressed into building Fort Negley,” the city statement says.