Friday, March 9, 2018

Changes Coming to Farmington Park

By Scott Sanders  

Scott  has lived in Germantown for nineteen years, and recently retired after thirty two years with the U.S. Marshals Service. A graduate of Leadership Germantown, Scott has served on the Public Safety Education Commission and frequently volunteers in the community. Two of his four children attended Farmington Elementary. Scott takes a particular interest in the parks, so Shining a LIght asked him to describe the planned renovation of Farmington Park. From Scott I learned that there may not be enough slides and that plans call for the basketball court to be removed. He urges neighbors to take the City survey, which closes March 18. Here is his account of going to the viewing of the plans: 

On March 8, 2018 the City, along with a team led by Dalhoff-Thomas Design Studio, held a public viewing of the Farmington Park Master Plan at the Elementary school from 3:30-6:00 pm. Since I’ve seen a lot of talk on Facebook and social media about this park, the basketball courts, and the sports fields, I decided to drop by and see the proposal. The staff had two large blown up proposed conceptual master plans on each side of the library as well as a PowerPoint presentation scrolling on the screen. Parks and Recreation Director Pam Beasley and the design staff were present to answer any questions from the public, but there was no formal scripted presentation to the group. It was more of a come and go, view at your leisure, and an opportunity to ask questions of anyone. There were also 3 by 5 cards for comments to drop in a box on one of the tables by the sign in sheet.

My attention was first drawn to the design plans. A gentleman from Dalhoff-Thomas described the design to me and a resident from the neighborhood. The construction will occur in two phases. Phase I would begin soon with money the City has already approved in this year’s budget. I don’t recall the exact figure, but Mrs. Beasley joined the conversation and stated it was a little over $300,000. The area shaded in blue was part of the first phase of construction. It appears to me to be mostly site work and just a handful of the design elements.  She explained to us that this part of the renovation also fits in with the larger 2018 Germantown Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan-- making the park ADA compliant is a priority. To do so requires removal of approximately ten parking spaces for access to the park and calls for an exit to be installed on the south end of the parking lot onto Cordes Road. She explained that the city would then request a grant from the State of Tennessee. If awarded those funds, Phase II could begin, using those funds along with matching funds from the city in the FY19 budget. Doing the quick math, and in response to my question, she confirmed that the total cost of this project will be in the neighborhood of $750,000.

I then moved to the projection screen and attempted to view the slides scrolling giving details of the project. This took a little time because of the amount of information on each slide. I couldn’t read it all before the slide rotated and had to wait for it to come around again. The fourth slide gave some good information - there are approximately 4000 residents in the square mile surrounding this park, there are 800+ students pre-K-Grade 5 at the school and approximately 200 after school care students that will be using this facility. The photos only depicted children playing in the park.  No adults were shown on the basketball court, yet almost every time I pass this park there are several adults playing ball here. 

The slide showing the proposed grant and city matching funds might be misleading unless you look closely and see that this $430,000 is only for Phase II, there is no mention of the cost for Phase I. Four of the slides gave bullet points on the positive impact this renovation will have on the community. These include how it fits with the Comprehensive Master Park Plan, how it fits with Germantown 2030 Plan, how it retains and advances recreational quality of life, and so forth.    

The four slides referencing the December 2017 survey of Farmington Elementary Families were a little confusing.  Of course I was not a participant in this survey so I didn’t know how the survey was worded. I did notice that ropes courses, slides and swings were rated high on the list of things in “the best parks you have visited” and “what would make this park totally awesome.” Then, although basketball was rated fairly low on the question of making this park totally awesome, it did appear as number three on the list of things the kids like to play. I didn’t quite understand that, as you would think it would appear on top the list of desired amenities.   

You may click to enlarge these slides:  

Shows Slides Second favorite activities

Shows one person wants to get rid of basketball

Basketball was third in what games played

Running Around, Climbing, and Sports are Favorites

I returned to the design plans and spoke to the design team and Mrs. Beasley and asked a few more questions. First, I pointed out the fact that their survey results mentioned that they liked slides (it was in the top three things listed). I asked why there were no slides and the designer pointed to the picture numbered 13 depicting a small hill with a slide.  The photo depicted a slide perhaps for a toddler but not one that an older student may have fun using. When I pointed this out, Mrs. Beasley recommended I fill out a comment card and drop it in the box. I then inquired about  why current basketball court was being removed. The designer said it was not safe because the ball frequently goes out into the parking lot, He then pointed out a half-court basketball area with a child sized goal, which I assume means it’s not regulation height. He stated that he was told that residents didn’t want the current court to remain. There are numerous ropes courses and a six regular swings and two basket-type swings incorporated in this plan, which were high on the list.  He also pointed out the features that teachers would use to hold outdoor classes-- sitting areas where teachers could observe the playground, and rock structures where kids may sit and talk or play with each other.

I didn’t see anything in this presentation that mentioned what the residents living near the school would like or what other residents that currently use the park would like to see.  Therefore I encourage all those who are interested in this project to go to the City Website and participate in the open survey. The information from the city indicates that the survey will close on March 18 at midnight, so you don’t have much time considering spring break is upon us and many may be traveling. Please take the time if this is one of your "go to" parks. I’m looking forward to viewing those comments and seeing how they may be incorporated into the final plan. I hope the city will post those results. 

I am also looking forward to seeing this 2018 Germantown Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan that is mentioned. I hope the city will make that available soon on their webpage, hopefully before final adoption by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.  So far I’ve only seen the preliminary plan and participated in the public survey.  I am anxious to see the results of that survey and any changes that were incorporated in response to residents input.   



  1. I hope folks will read and take the survey whether you live in this district or not. I taught at FES for 27 years. This park should be designed for the neighborhood first. Lots of older kids and adults love and use the basketball court nearly every day. I am still at the school every day and see my former kids coming back to have a game with friends. The younger grades use this as their recess area...upper grades rarely. They do need more swings for kids who are not needing an infant seat and slides. To be honest, many of the younger kids make up their own games. Design for the neighborhood...bring families together here. Also get rid of the shredded rubber..such pollution. Lee Anne Tanner

    1. Thank you for responding.You sound like you are very familiar with the park, which I am not. It is a shame that the City only polled the school families and not the neighbors of the park. I don't understand that. At least they are taking feedback. I hope they heed it. I don't blame the designers for the removal of the basketball court because they were told the neighbors don't want it. I am not sure how the City thought they knew that without asking for their opinions on the front end. If you look at the survey carefully it seems skewed. Asking the question about parks you visit won't elicit a basketball response because very few parks have basketball courts. It rated high under activities. I hope the City polls the neighborhood around the park before proceeding with this plan. The design should be based on a consensus in the neighborhood around the park.

  2. I don't know how on earth this equipment meets any goal of bringing families together in the neighborhood. It is all geared towards ages 8 and under. It is very odd. And no one from the neighborhood was asked at all, thus far. I live directly across from the school / playground and no one asked my thoughts.

    Here's hoping the city and planners actually listen to the residents who use the parks. :)