NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At Brookmeade Park, an excavator was hard at work cleaning up what's left of the former homeless encampment.
Metro Parks began cleaning up the park a week ago. This comes after residents of the encampment were notified back in November of the park's closure on Jan. 4.
Interim Director of Metro Homeless Impact Division April Calvin did a final walk-through of the park to search for any remaining individuals on Wednesday morning.
“You know, this is their community and this is where they lived for many years,” she said.
But the community is now gone. All that's left are remnants of the former homeless encampment.
“The last two [people] were moved out yesterday,” said Calvin.
More than 45 people have been moved out of Brookmeade Park and into some kind of interim or permanent housing.
“So, the next step is just helping them integrate back into the community, providing the support services that they need, providing the life skills that they need, on top of the housing that comes along with that,” said Calvin.
It's a day Rebecca Lowe has been hoping for — not just for the park — but for the people who once lived in it.
“It shouldn't have taken this long," said the president of Reclaim Brookmeade Park. "It shouldn't have been so contentious.”
The group has been calling for change in order to house the homeless and return the park to the public.
“It was a long time coming, but I know it’s going to happen," said Lowe. "It may be a little bit from now, but we’ll get there.”
Cleanup of the park will take up to four months. After that will be an assessment to determine the extent of soil contamination, environmental hazards and other factors that could be harmful. Finally, remediations and repairs will begin.
"I think we are reclaiming Brookmeade Park, and I'm really thrilled about it," said Lowe. "It’s been a long time coming. I wish it hadn’t been such a fight at times, but the end result is that individuals are now inside a home with a locking door, running water, air conditioning and heat, and so it was all worth it.”
Tuesday night, Metro Council voted to install a fence around the park. The hope is to protect the work being done inside the park and deter people from moving back in.