Five things to know about Brentwood, TN.
Back when Brentwood’s massive Maryland Farms development existed only on paper, those who lived on the west side of the burgeoning town could walk or bike on a bumpy gravel path to access a smattering of retailers and eateries.
The path, nicknamed by some as the “elephant graveyard” for its potholes, became obsolete as new roads through Maryland Farms were built to accommodate cars rather than walkers and cyclists, recalls longtime resident Devin McClendon.
But that’s about to change.
Part of a larger city plan
While Brentwood City Commission’s approval to rezone a city-owned greenway behind Maryland Farms for a future multiuse path is considered a win for many residents, the move is indicative of a larger vision outlined in the city’s long-term plans.
“Particularly in suburbs like Brentwood, where we cherish our residential nature, we need to have good connectivity for bikers, walkers and runners,” said McClendon, a member of Bike Walk Brentwood. The group is a local branch of the statewide Bike Walk Tennessee program, which advocates for better connectivity between neighborhoods, schools and commercial hubs through bike lanes, trails and sidewalks.
The long 20-acre tract of land between the Maryland Farms office park and the Iroquois Estates and Meadowlake subdivisions, known as the Maryland Farms Greenway, is seen as an opportunity to connect nearby neighborhoods to Town Center.
In 1997, the greenway was established as a permanent buffer between Maryland Farms and the neighborhoods behind it. Rezoning was required to allow a path before the city could build it.
For walkers and cyclists, the paved path will provide a mile-long connector between Powell Park and Maryland Farms Park. Eventually, the city hopes it will connect the Hill Center development.
Fewer trails on the city’s west side
While the east side of town has no shortage of multiuse trails winding through parks and neighborhoods, it’s been more difficult to copy that on the west side of Brentwood, City Manager Kirk Bednar said.
“Our trail network is much more developed on the east side of town because we’ve been able to expand it as development occurred,” he said. “The west side of town was largely developed first. In hindsight, we wish we had looked at it differently at the time.”
However, not everyone has been supportive of the multiuse path.
Some residents whose properties border the greenway shared their concerns recently to commissioners about a possible loss of privacy and safety.
“I don’t know how many of you would want strangers from hotels walking to restaurants where they can drink, they can have gun permits, and walking back at night where they can literally see into your windows or walk into your driveway,” resident Sandra Malone told commissioners during an Oct. 9 public hearing.
Sally Witherspoon said she thinks the path will benefit people who work at Maryland Farms, not the residents who live behind it.
“They are putting this path back there specifically for the industrial users,” Witherspoon said. “There’s no access for the neighborhood — we’re giving something up and getting nothing, that’s what’s so bad about this whole thing.”
Malone’s and Witherspoon’s properties back up to the greenway. They’re worried a paved path will bring more people and less security.
The city commission also was divided on the matter, with Vice Mayor Mark Gorman and Ken Travis voting against the proposal to rezone the greenway to allow a path.
“Connectivity is good, we want that in the city, but not at the expense of individual property owners in their backyards,” Gorman said. “In 1997, the commission at that time made a promise to the residents, and the promise was no path in your backyard.”
But with or without a paved trail, the greenway is still public property, and anyone can use it.
“I have a different point of view on safety, because I think runners and walkers with cellphones and videos improve our safety these days,” said Richard Hunter, vice chair of Brentwood’s Bike and Pedestrian Ad Hoc Committee.
“People can be back on that land legally. Unfortunately, they can be right next to my neighbors’ fences. But if I’m riding my bike and I see that (happening), I can report that,” Hunter said. “I think this will be a huge asset to our city.”
As a resident of Meadowlake, Hunter said he’d welcome the increased connectivity to the city’s parks from his neighborhood.
Bednar said residents’ interest in retrofitting trails into the west side of town has grown in recent years, but the opportunities have been limited.
“The commission has been very reluctant to ever force anything like that through eminent domain. … This trail was really an opportunity to do something on primarily what’s already city-owned property,” he said.
While not everyone is happy with the outcome, the path will support Brentwood’s 2030 Plan, which lists as a goal providing more bike and pedestrian connectivity, “especially on the western side of I-65 where such connectivity is lacking.”
Reach Elaina Sauber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-571-1172 and on Twitter @ElainaSauber.
City launches bike connectivity study
- On Monday, Brentwood announced a Bicycle and Pedestrian Connectivity study to look at options that would connect east and west Brentwood across or under the Interstate 65 corridor.
- The goal is to bridge the divide created by the I-65 corridor and create an east-west connection to expand the city’s bike and pedestrian network.
- You can provide feedback here.
- Kimley-Horn will conduct the study and recommend the most feasible and cost effective options to the Brentwood City Commission.
- Brentwood has five greenways around the city comprising more than 75 acres near Maryland Way, Moores Lane, Moores Lane East, Split Log Road and Wilson Pike.
- Greenways, which are essentially corridors of open space, are used as a buffer between commercial and residential development to preserve the community feel within neighborhoods.
- The greenways aren’t maintained for resident safety and are designed for protection from commercial development, according to the city’s website.
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