More than four years after initial plans were announced, Belmont University began construction in July on campus-community sports facilities at E.S. Rose Park in Edgehill.
Nearly $8 million in upgrades to Rose Park, 10 blocks north of campus, will provide homes for five Belmont sports teams, and the area is expected to be ready for use by spring 2011.
Work at the site began after the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Belmont, a decision that ended the legal battles between the university and a community organization, Organized Neighbors of Edgehill, as well as other Edgehill residents.
Jason Rogers, university counsel and vice president of administration, said he is pleased things are finally coming together.
“I’m looking forward to construction being complete and available for use to the community,” he said.
Rogers said he feels that most Edgehill residents actually support the project and the potential it brings to the community, despite the grassroots opposition that stalled the project.
“We’ve gotten some very positive reactions from the community,” Rogers said. “Many neighbors are excited.”
When completed, the renovations will give both the Edgehill community and the university fields for baseball, softball and soccer that meet NCAA Division I standards. A new track will also be built at the facility.
Under a 40-year lease agreement, Metro Parks will still own the property. Edgehill residents will have first priority to the complex, according to the lease. Belmont has said it will schedule events around local schools and community organizations and will try to maintain a schedule that will avoid disturbance to the neighborhood as much as possible.
In making the agreement, Belmont will not only foot the cost of the renovation, but also will pay Metro an additional $50,000 annually. A portion of the money will aid the PTO organizations of the neighborhood’s Carter Lawrence Elementary and Rose Park Middle schools, both of which are magnet schools in the Metro Nashville Public Schools system, and provide full or partial scholarships for high school seniors in the Edgehill area. The remainder will be used for improvements in Metro Parks.
When Rose Park is not in use for scheduled Edgehill or Belmont events, the park will be completely open to the public.
Ideally, construction will be more minor than some in the neighborhood expect, Rogers said. The university will keep local residents informed about the ongoing renovations and what effect that might have in the neighborhood.
Rogers is optimistic the complex will be completed on time and be ready for Bruins baseball and softball games next spring.
“We’re proceeding with the timeline we wanted to pursue when the case got through the court system,” he said.