Canoes, Kayaks, An Amphitheater, A Dog Park: Nashville Mayor Says Riverfront Will Become True ‘Center Of The City’

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean stands on the pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River as he unveils plans for a new amphitheater on the site of an old thermal plant on the river's west bank. Credit WPLN/Daniel Potter

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean stands on the pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River as he unveils plans for a new amphitheater on the site of an old thermal plant on the river’s west bank. Credit WPLN/Daniel Potter

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean wants the city’s downtown riverfront to come alive with a new venue for outdoor concerts, a dog park, and canoes and kayaks in the water.  Dean says the total price tag could run to $40 million, but the money for it is already in place.

Dean says he’s not asking for more funding, because it’s already been approved in past budgets.  Part of it will come from an account to help prevent flooding.  That’s because the plan includes a promenade with fittings for a removable floodwall, near lower Broadway, which sat underwater for days in May of 2010.

Dean’s plan also calls for an amphitheater on the site of Nashville’s old thermal plant.  The city once burned its trash there, but its central location has made it a coveted site in recent years, and it’s served as the venue for a select handful of concerts, like the Fourth of July and CMA Fest.

“But on most days, when Thermal is not being used for one of these annual events, the site, as you can see, is closed off to the public.  It is closed off with a chainlink fence.”

Dean is envisioning an outdoor venue the symphony can use in summertime, with 2,500 removable seats, and room in the grass for thousands more.

Removable Floodwall

The idea behind the removable wall is to protect a stretch of First Avenue between Fort Nashboro and Molloy, which the floodwaters inundated in 2010.  The model follows similar projects built in Iowa and Minnesota.

Metro wants to build a new walkway lined with metal posts maybe ten feet tall.  Metro Water Director Scott Potter says they would form the wall’s skeleton, outlining where workers could insert metal panels whenever the Cumberland River comes close to flooding.

“You’ll have a series of posts that are maybe seven or eight feet apart, and then you’ll have an aluminum panel that you can drop into a slot, and you do that all the way down the floodwall, and that builds a retaining wall.”

Potter says an underground wall may also be needed, depending how porous and leaky the underlying rock turns out to be.  Metro says to help pay for parts of the project, there’s a case to get federal funding, although it hinges on an Army Corps of Engineers study that won’t be finished until 2016.

Removable floodwalls have already been built in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and at the airport in St. Paul, Minnesota.  In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed floodwalls to protect the city in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

With the disclaimer that not all plans are finalized, Dean’s administration released the following artist renderings (click for larger view):

Master plan for the west bank of the Cumberland river

Master plan for the west bank of the Cumberland river

 

Amphitheater, green space, and dog park on the site of the old thermal plant

Amphitheater, green space, and dog park on the site of the old thermal plant

 

Artist rendering of a future ampitheater on the thermal plant site

Artist rendering of a future amphitheater on the thermal plant site

 

A sloped shore and concrete beach would give greater access to the river from the east bank

A sloped shore and concrete beach would give greater access to the river from the east bank

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