I recently wrote this op-ed piece for The Tennessean, published on Wednesday, August 13.
Revitalization and Involvement Will Make Nashville a More Walkable City
By Mark Deutschmann
Walkable and bikable neighborhoods are becoming more important to Nashvillians. While we’ve made progress – recently ranking 39th in the nation for walkability – we need to reduce our dependence on cars and enjoy this city as pedestrians.
Here are my suggestions for helping Nashville become a smart, walkable city:
Reuse and revitalize existing infrastructure. We don’t have endless resources so we need to connect our walkable neighborhoods with transportation systems, access to food sources and aging sewer, water and electric systems, roadways and bridges.
Activate the Downtown Riverfront redevelopment plan. It’s time to acknowledge and redevelop one of this city’s greatest assets, the Cumberland Riverfront. This will create neighborhood access to our river and attract tourism, conventioneers and additional corporations to the urban core.
Redevelop the East Bank with its wonderful views of our downtown. Contiguous to the stadium and to downtown via Shelby Street pedestrian bridge, this mixed-use and retail community will benefit all who partake in our city, as does Harbor Place in Baltimore.
Support Greenways for Nashville. We now have more than 40 miles of trails connecting a linear park system through our natural watersheds to our neighborhoods, including a pedestrian bridge that crosses from Shelby Bottoms to Opryland. More than 160 miles of additional greenways are planned. Greenways serve to promote connectivity, access to natural beauty and healthy living for our communities.
Join the Civic Design Center and support its Plan of Nashville. Visit http://www.civicdesigncenter.org/, study the Plan of Nashville and note the 10 guiding principles, the framework through which the continued development of our city should be evaluated.
Support Mayor Karl Dean’s initiative to make Nashville the “greenest city in the Southeast.” Green is synonymous with walkability.
Continue redevelopment of neighborhood commercial districts. Neighborhoods are defined by their walkable commercial districts. Existing examples are 12South, Hillsboro Village and Five Points. Commercial districts in the Gulch, Germantown and Rolling Mill Hill will soon define these emerging neighborhoods.
Join the newly formed Urban Land Institute Nashville Chapter and learn about smart growth! This is a must for any business leader or one who aspires to understand urban design, workforce housing and transportation issues in the context of walkable and livable neighborhoods.
Move downtown and support the growth of our 24-hour city. Great cities are built from the core, and a great city requires participation and engagement. Come live, work and play in downtown Music City.
Encourage Metro, the Mayor’s Office, MDHA and the Planning Department to work together to leverage our unique urban opportunities and make every attempt to create development possibilities in the city core. We shouldn’t take the easy way out and allow large, suburban/rural developments to supplant downtown Nashville as our economic and corporate core.
Much remains to be done to reuse and revitalize the downtown core and existing neighborhoods to make this a smart, walkable city. It will take focus and involvement from all Nashvillians.