The green space at the end of South Jefferson Street won’t become an official town park — at least, not in the next year.
Cindy David and Bob Vernon had begun discussions in April about selling or leasing their 1.75 acres to the town for use as a permanent green space.
In a closed meeting Sept. 1, the Nashville Town Council decided not to pursue the project “at this time,” and notified the couple via a letter from the town attorney the next day.
The budget won’t allow it, council President “Buzz” King said. “We can’t do it right now. We have to be fiscally responsible budget-wise, and we can’t overextend ourselves, and we won’t,” he said.
“It was certainly a disappointment, and a surprise, actually,” David said. “I think we both thought a certain something would come of it.
“But, they have to work on the things that they have to work with. We understand that.”
The couple’s attorney had sent a two-page letter to the town in the spring, laying out their vision for the land and listing a price of $150,000. They offered a 10-year option to the town to pay all but a $30,000 down payment.
The town would assume liability insurance on the property — the hang-up to the couple opening the parcel as a public park themselves.
They told the council Aug. 18 that they hoped that would be a starting point for further negotiation.
Property records show they bought the land for $84,460 in July 2011 from Charles Roberts Jr. and family. They put more money into it through landscaping, the letter said.
The letter also listed eight “covenant” suggestions about how the property would be used or not used. They wanted it to be open to the general public and nonprofits, protected from commercial development and never sold or transferred unless to another government entity.
The couple also asked to be involved in the evolution of the land and for the public to be informed of any proposed alterations and uses, too.
Visitors have been stopping by for more than two years and writing in a suggestion book about how the land should best be used, and many preferred a park.
King said the town would have liked that, too, but the money isn’t there right now.
“Be nice to have it, love it and love them, great people, but right now, we can’t do it,” he said. “Now, in a year or two, when we build our funds up, and if it’s still for sale, we would definitely make an offer, see if they accept it,” King said.
About a potential long-term lease arrangement the couple suggested, King said that sounded like it would cost too much, too, though it was a good idea.
He said he’d be open to discussing a suggestion from Town Manager/Economic Development Director Scott Rudd, about setting aside part of the town’s allowed budget growth each year for parks and other “quality of life” improvements to attract and retain residents. Otherwise, there is no budget dedicated to parks right now.
King said that if, while they’re waiting for the town to build up its funds, the couple finds another buyer, he’d understand if they went that route.
David said finding a commercial buyer is not a consideration. The reason they bought the property was to maintain one of the few undeveloped lots left in town as green space, and “there’s truly, at least for me, not even a price on things like that.”
The couple has been talking to a community group about other possibilities to achieve what they had hoped for, but nothing concrete has come of those talks, David said.
They’d still like to “get to some kind of yes” with the town and maintain a dialog about the project, she said.