Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Riverfront Renaissance in Nashville

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Riverfront Renaissance in Nashville

Article excerpt

On the shores of the Cumberland River, Riverfront Park, an 11-acre civic park, has quickly become a destination for active recreation and enjoyment for residents and visitors in Nashville. The design of the park was inspired by the limestone bluffs and edges of the Cumberland River. Portions of the park are perched above the river and provide a spectacular view of river activity and the rolling hills. Riverfront Park provides a critical link to Nashville's greenway system, connecting two existing greenways through downtown--the Rolling Mill Hill greenway to the south and the MetroCenter Levee greenway to the north--and creating a more than 5.5-mile long, continuous paved trail. It also features a 1.5-acre event lawn called the Green and the Ascend Amphitheater.

Until 2004, Riverfront Park was the site of the Nashville Thermal Transfer Plant, the first waste-to-energy facility in the United States. It was environmentally mitigated soon thereafter, and following a master plan commissioned in 2012, it was determined that this, the last great vestige of open space in downtown Nashville, would be best used as public open space.

"Like so many park projects, we needed to achieve multiple goals," says Tim Netsch, assistant director, planning division, Metro Parks. "The project furthers Metro Parks' commitment to the Cumberland River as a recreational and natural asset and is the third phase to be completed of a larger Riverfront Development Plan. The space functions as a much-needed neighborhood park for a burgeoning downtown residential community. The outdoor amphitheater needed to rank as one of the world's best while successfully integrating with intensive daily use as a public park."

Accentuating the Environment

The risk of flooding from the Cumberland River, which inundated the Nashville waterfront in 2010, was a major factor in Riverfront Park's design. To avoid future cost and disruption, a mile-long, tree-lined promenade, that hugs the riverfront and the city seamlessly integrates needed flood walls into the design. Along some portions of the park, the flood wall design provides low stone seat walls where visitors can relax and take in the view.

A number of sustainable features, baked into Riverfront Park's design, helped it to achieve LEED Gold-certified status from the U.S. Green Building Council: a geothermal heating and cooling system, 2,800 square feet of green roofs, 1,350 square feet of solar panels, a 400,000 gallon rain harvesting tank, and solar mobile phone charging stations for public use, to name a handful. …

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