Want some idea of how hard Nashville’s parks were hit by the flood?
“We had 42 miles of greenway on Friday. We may be down to 4 miles undamaged,” Interim Metro Parks Director Tommy Lynch said. “We still don’t know.”
As the waters began to recede last week, Lynch assessed the damage wrought by the May Day flood on Metro’s park system.
The most commonly used phrase in his verbal walking tour: “extensive damage.”
The Richland Creek Greenway: “Massively impacted. It’s fences down, boardwalks removed. The bridge held, but the asphalt and concrete has been lifted up and moved by the torrent.”
Nearby McCabe Golf Course: “All the holes situated along the creek have been destroyed. Greens and tees have been washed away with debris left everywhere.”
The part of Ted Rhodes Golf Course behind the MetroCenter levee is OK, but the holes on the other side of Clarksville Highway may be a total loss if the river doesn’t recede quickly enough.
In Antioch, Mill Creek’s rushing waters brought complete devastation to the Antioch Community Center. Bells Bend is underwater, though that doesn’t matter much as the park is largely kept wild. There are mudslides all over the Warner Parks, closing roads and trails.
And there’s no telling what’s going on at Bellevue’s parks.
“The Harpeth River Greenway: still underwater. But we know we have some damage,” Lynch said.
The crown jewel of the Nashville park system, Centennial, emerged largely unscathed, but the indoor tennis courts at the SportsPlex saw sewage back up and water bend the sheet-metal walls.
With so many of the parks, greenways and golf courses so close to rivers, creeks and various tributaries, the full extent of the damage is not known. But Lynch said they are doing their part.
The showers are off-limits at park facilities. The Zamboni at the SportsPlex has been taken offline until the state water conservation order is lifted.
“And the cleanup we can’t do because it’ll be spraying and pressure washing. We are having to delay doing all of that until the water shortage has been relieved,” Lynch said.
Parks play an important role in the life of the city, and tens of thousands of Nashvillians use and enjoy the parks for walking, jogging and team sports — which, by the way, have largely been canceled for the time being.
Lynch understands that, and he knows getting outside, being around people, and moving back into a routine are key parts of recovery. That’s why many of the city’s signature events went ahead as scheduled this weekend.
But, Lynch said, there has to be some perspective, too.
“We want to get everything back to normal. With that being said, the priority is the families displaced, the infrastructure. The main priority is the people and the homes and the businesses that have been impacted. Parks will receive their proper priority and their proper funding,” he said.
It just may be awhile before we know how much that is.