If any ballpark architects from Gobbell Hays and Populous ever mentioned demolishing the state greenway along with a water feature that commemorated the sulphur spring and creek that marked both the history and prehistory of an area that was the cradle of the city of Nashville, I missed it. But I discovered today that the greenway and fountain are gone.
|June 2007: an attractive homage to the sulphur spring that once fed|
French Lick Creek, whose course was commemorated with an adjoining greenway
|April 2014: the spot where the water feature once stood,|
now reduced to rubble and landfill left by the new ballpark/mixed-use project
Make no mistake. Nashville has a permissive track record of enabling developers to wipe its history clean in order to embrace growth. And builders rush in to reduce the historic and the prehistoric records to virtual moonscapes before building something else. Like some coursing need to wash itself clean of its own history, good or ill, Nashville hands development over to developers to largely tear down and build anew at will.
So, maybe I should not be surprised to see today that the fountain and greenway have met the same fate as demolished state parking lots and city roadways. The profit motive overruns any preservation mandate. There is no onus on the architects to acknowledge the significance of the sulphur spring for which their concept is named. It certainly won't come from this Mayor or this district's council member both of whom have ingratiated themselves to the real estate industry. Having been a Nashvillian for 25 years, nothing Metro allows surprises me anymore.
But what sticks with me now is that nobody bothered to be transparent about the demolition beforehand: not the architects, not the sponsoring council member, not the Mayor. I don't remember a word uttered about it. Hence, I wonder if what we are going to get--once something is built on top of the demolished debris, on top of the dust heap--is privatized infill rarely open to the public and forgetful of what was there before baseball or hipster urbanism were ever imagined in Nashville. Is the small corridor where there was once a greenway and a water feature going to be flipped to a sterilized, generic pass-through for people on the way to somewhere else? That would be a cynical re-write of local history.