Neighborhood group wants city to have a more visible presence at Brookmeade Park homeless encampment

Brookmeade Park Winter 2022
Posted at 4:40 PM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 06:41:06-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The number of people living in Brookmeade Park has dwindled, but it is still very much a homeless encampment.

On Monday, volunteers helped clean some of it up after AmeriCorps organized a trash pickup.

"It's hard to forget something like this, coming out and seeing people and all the trash that accumulates in their environment," said Cesar Orta, a volunteer.

Members of the neighborhood group Reclaim Brookmeade Park said the park does need to be cleaned up, but that shouldn't be the main priority right now.

"It's not about just cleaning up the park so we can use the park, it's about the people in the park getting the mental health they need, the addiction help they need, job training and getting to where they can be in society again," said Tim Tomes.

The city, in conjunction with several nonprofits, has made headway with homelessness in recent months. It opened two mobile housing navigation centers in the fall. However, Tomes and Reclaim Brookmeade Park are unhappy with the lack of progress at the actual park.

"It becomes a magnet for the homeless, or addicted and mentally ill people to come into this park from all over the city because nothing is going to be done, so they know they can come over here," Tomes said.

Additionally, the neighborhood group believes people are giving the unhoused residents items that make them too comfortable.

"As long as people continue to bring everything that they possibly need, why would you leave?" Tomes said.

The city has set aside $1.26 million to restore Brookmeade Park, but none of the money can be used to remove or disturb park residents.

And not until the encampment is cleared can $850,000 be used to repair and renovate the park. That money will be used to buy new signs and maps, repave the trail and parking lot as well as put in electronic gates at the entrance.