Appeals court decision  advances Rose Park plan
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Appeals court decision advances Rose Park plan

Belmont athletics moved one step closer to multiple new sports facilities when the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the university and Metro government on Dec. 31.

The decision, which validated a 2007 lease between Belmont and Metro Parks and Recreation, allows Belmont to renovate Edgehill’s E.S. Rose Park by building public facilities for baseball, softball, soccer, and track and field.

By Jan. 4, however, after the three-day holiday weekend, the plans were put on hold again as the Organized Neighbors of Edgehill filed a petition asking the Court of Appeals to rehear the case.

The petition didn’t surprise Jason Rogers, university counsel and vice president of administration, after the organization’s multiple appeals and lawsuits following the lease agreement.

“I believe there is a small but vocal group opposed to the project that are willing to try anything,” said Rogers.

Rogers is optimistic the Court of Appeals will rule on the petition quickly. If the opponents’ petition is denied, Belmont has plans in place to begin construction quickly.

“We needed to get together with Metro Parks, the architects and the contractors,” he said. “We’re moving towards construction as quickly as possible.”

The lease, signed in August 2007, allows Belmont to spend $7 million to build new baseball, softball and soccer fields as well as a new track at Rose Park, a public park 10 blocks from campus. While the park will host Belmont athletic events, it will still be open to the public.

“One of the concerns is that the public can’t use the facilities during the summer or during the school year,” said Rogers. But Rogers suggests that’s a non-issue. “ It’s against NCAA rules for our teams to practice over the summer. In soccer, our soccer teams will have to schedule around community leagues and schools.”

Metro Parks will control scheduling for all events, including Belmont’s.

“Metro will continue to own the park. The lease clearly states the parties currently using the park will have priority,” said Rogers.

Belmont will also be required to pay $40,000 annually to Metro Parks as part of the agreement. The parent-teacher organizations of two Edgehill schools will also receive $5,000 each. Under the lease, Belmont will also provide eight full-tuition scholarships and two half-tuition scholarships to Edgehill residents.

“From our perspective, we’re going to make this a win-win situation for everyone concerned,” said Rogers.

He is optimistic Belmont will work with many Edgehill residents to improve their community through Rose Park.

“The university is finding new ways to get involved with the community,” said Rogers. “There are a lot of neighbors that support the project. We are certainly looking forward to working with them.”

Arlene Lane, the president of Organized Neighbors of Edgehill, was contacted and declined to comment for this story.

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