Cumberland Park taking shape nicely on East Bank

Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 10:05pm

Cumberland Park is taking shape. Given that the East Bank green space has gone through more names than Sean “Puffy” Combs, the park’s progress is a welcome sight. 

During the past month, two massive gantries (cranes that extend over the river) have been repainted a handsome gray; crews have added full-scale landscaping; concrete work and installation of underground water and electrical systems has begun; and soil remediation work was basically finished. 

That’s impressive, as site work there — which started in October 2010 — seemed almost dormant a mere three months ago. 

“It’s a beehive of activity right now,” said Ed Owens, the Metro Development and Housing Agency’s waterfront redevelopment director. “[The park] is most definitely getting to the point where it’s easier to see its three-dimensional form.”

Indeed, Cumberland Park, which joins the rehabbing of the nearby NABRICO Building as the first two of the multiphase riverfront redevelopment effort, is now assuming an actual park form. Progress on the $8.9 million green space — its name, selected by citizen vote, is generic but unpretentious — has been slow-rising. 

Cumberland Park initially was called Adventure Play Park. Mayor Karl Dean considered placing it on the backburner to allow for development to begin on the Cumberland’s West Bank. But in a 2009 public meeting, Councilman Mike Jameson and fellow East Nashvillians unleashed their displeasure upon the reserved Owens. Dean reconsidered, and the moniker was changed to Adventure Park, so as to not trivialize the space by suggesting some kind of kiddie playground. 

With a subsequent naming contest and potential phasing missteps firmly in the past, the Hargreaves Associates-designed Cumberland Park briskly evolves. Owens said the next few months would see extensive foliage work along the Cumberland River’s edge. 

“Portions will be selectively thinned to remove invasive species,” he said. “It will start to dress up the riverbank.”

Still to be completed for the late-fall opening are a walking bridge over the park’s hollow; stone and concrete work; and a small, earthen amphitheater.