Saturday, April 30, 2005

Our Vital Neighborhood Community Centers

Today's Tennessean contained an update on the reconstruction of the Community Center at Hadley Park.
Hadley Park Community Center.

The new center is a testament to the Mayor's commitments to neighborhoods and greenways and to the input of Hadley Park's residents and to the continuing influence of the Hadley Park Neighborhood Association. It will no doubt boost their partnership to promote health among the residents of northwest Nashville (including Preston Taylor and Tomorrow's Hope neighborhoods).

The modest community center in Morgan Park (MPCC) is not nearly as state-of-the-art as is Hadley Park's but it is also vital to the well-being of the Germantown, East Germantown, and Salemtown neighborhoods.
Morgan Park Community Center. Photograph by S-townMike. Posted by Hello
MPCC is aging, but stately. Its Manager, Michael Smith, and his able staff provide neighbors with various important programs and service opportunities. I am frequently, if not daily, in Morgan Park and around MPCC because I live a stone's throw away. It seems to me that, despite its central location between Germantown and Salemtown, it is exclusively used by Salemtown residents. It is the central meeting place for Salemtown Neighbors, the Salemtown Neighborhood Association, which meets there at least twice a month.
As far as I know, very few folk from Germantown or East Germantown utilize this neighborhood resource. I spoke with a person a couple of weeks ago who goes to the center everyday. He seems to know the people who come and go pretty well. He told me that he has seen very few residents outside of Salemtown use the center.

If that is indeed the case, it seems a waste to have such a great resource and community partner--in the center of the northern end of downtown--go unused by a large part of our enclave. When Germantown expanded its northern border from Van Buren St. to Hume St. a while back, it encompassed the MPCC within its border, and yet MPCC seems more of a Salemtown institution, given those who use it.

Perhaps the Germantown folks are waiting for the proposed Botanical Garden to be brought back to Morgan Park before using the MPCC. And perhaps a botanical garden would not be such a bad thing. But I hope that we do not get so preoccupied with romantic views of a restored past that we overlook what we have in the present. The MPCC is rooted in good things now. It does its work now, somewhere between Hadley Park's state-of-the-art future, and its own storied past. And now is the time for all of our north end enclave--from downtown to the north loop; from 8th to the river--to appreciate and to applaud it for what it is.

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