Residents gathered at the Children’s Memory Garden of Nashville this week in the Centennial Park to celebrate the groundbreaking of the garden’s redevelopment. The group, organized by the nonprofit You Have the Power, stated on their website that the redevelopment would be “undergoing new design to restore its dignity and peace, and to make it accessible to all.”
Part of the redevelopment is due to the Nashville Metro Parks and Recreation’s Centennial Park Concept Plan.
Mayor John Cooper attended the groundbreaking Saturday and said, “I joined parents and friends for the groundbreaking of the Children’s Memory Garden of Nashville in Centennial Park. Nashville stands behind the families who have lost children to violence. The garden will forever be a place for healing.”
The Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects was the company to redesign the park, and the garden will be built by Dowdle Construction.
The Children’s Memorial Garden was originally founded in 1996 after 6-year-old Kelby Smith heard of a group of children who had passed from gunshot wounds in the mid-1990s. Smith’s father, a local horticulturist, met with Jim Fyke, then-director of Metro Nashville Parks about the idea of a garden to honor the children’s lives. The Parks and Recreation board unanimously approved of the garden to be built in Centennial Park.
Funding for the garden was provided by financial and in-kind contributions of plants and materials that poured in from local congregations and businesses, including Charlie Hunt of Hunt Memorials, who donated stonework and markers.
For years, the parks were maintained by the Offices of the Mayor of Metro Nashville-Davidson County, District Attorney General of the 20th Judicial District and Victim Witness Services, Metro Nashville Police Department and Victim Intervention Services, and You Have The Power by new plantings, weedings, and park cleanup.
Metro Parks and Recreation eventually took over total control of the garden’s maintenance.
Over time, the garden fell into disrepair, exacerbated by its narrow pathways and uneven ground. “Its low-lying area is subject to water ponding on the stone markers during heavy rain, causing damage and limiting access,” the Garden’s “About Us” page laments.
The redevelopment of Children’s Memorial Garden is slated for completion in Spring 2022.
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