Brentwood Tennis, Pickleball, Parks, And Walkability — October 9 2023

First and foremost, I want to say thank you for all the encouraging emails, calls, and texts.  My letter about the squandered opportunity to partner with Williamson County was hard to write and send, but I felt like if I didn’t say something, I would be part of the problem.  I’m going to follow up on that as well as a few other things going on in Brentwood.

As always, thank you to my friends who help pull this together.  I can be reached at for feedback, and 615-917-1384 (voice or text) if it is urgent.

My letter from September has sparked considerable discussion, and I truly appreciate the comments and conversations.  If you didn’t see it, a good starting point is the Williamson Herald coverage here, and you can also find all the details on my website if you scroll down the bottom of the home page.

I would like to address some comments including:

  • “Isn’t it important we do our due diligence and study this thoroughly?” I agree that doing our homework is vitally important.  The commission was provided with details starting December 2022 followed up by emails and briefings in March and April.  Doing timely due diligence to recognize a good opportunity is very different than procrastinating and delegating. It is important to note that our due diligence did not require all the project details — all we had to do was recognize Williamson County as a good potential partner.  Procrastinating in May then delegating to an Ad Hoc committee in June is what Commissioners Gorman, Macmillan, Travis & Spears did and is why Williamson County lost interest in working with Brentwood on Indoor Tennis & Pickleball this budget cycle.

  • Isn’t the land worth something?” Yes, it is, and so was Williamson County’s offer to do the staffing and maintenance.  That is part of the balance of the proposed agreement.  This location was set aside at Crockett Park for a project like this, or possibly something like a second inclusive playground.
  • “This project could generate $750,000/year of revenue.  Shouldn’t we do this to make money for Brentwood?”  While both the county and the Ad Hoc committee have speculated an indoor racquet center could run an operating surplus through fees, any financial model is subject to risk and change.  The best-case scenario I’ve heard is that we build the facility for $10,000,000 (the lowest estimate) and return $750,000/year.  If we do this every year perpetually with zero additional costs, that would be a 7.5% rate of interest (interst rate = annual dollars/purchased price: 7.5% = 750,000/10,000,000).  Knowing the prime rate today is 8.5%, and that this project is neither without risk nor a perpetual guarantee, I don’t think doing it as an “investment” is sound, if even appropriate. If we do a tax supported project at all, I think it should be an amenity for a wide group of youth and citizens to affordably support a healthy activity.
  • “Brentwood has $56 million in “reserves”.  Shouldn’t we just use that to buy an Indoor Tennis Center?”  It is true that Brentwood is financially healthy, but we did not become financially healthy by making poor decisions with money.

I’ve had a chance to talk directly with Williamson County Commissioner Paul Webb who is Chair of the Williamson County Parks & Recreation Committee and also sits on the Williamson County Budget Committee.  Commissioner Webb let me know that at the Williamson County Commission meeting this Monday, Oct. 9, they will vote on bond issues for this year.  Brentwood’s review of the proposed joint Indoor Tennis/Pickleball facility and the timing of the county bond issue preparation led the county to defer this project to a future year at the recommendation of county staff.

The good news is that Commissioner Webb went on to say “As Chairman of that Committee (Parks & Recreation), if Brentwood is supportive, I can work to try to get it back on the capital improvement plan for 2024-2025 or 2025-2026.  I don’t think a possible collaboration is truly dead unless Brentwood decides not to pursue it with Williamson County.”

I also had a chance to talk to Williamson County Commissioner Tom Tunnicliffe, also on the Williamson County Parks & Recreation Committee, and he commented that he is pleased that Wilco Parks & Recreation has been able to keep the racquet facility in Maryland Farms running to support the tennis and pickleball community as leaders sort through a cost-effective solution.

At this point, it looks like we still have three options as a Brentwood City Commission, and it is important we consider them carefully with public input:

  • We still have the option to do nothing here and let the free market take care of supplying facilities for indoor tennis & pickleball.  The site next to the indoor soccer center could be used for something else, like a very nice inclusive playground or just left as green space.

  • We can “go it alone” as the City of Brentwood, build an indoor Tennis & Pickleball facility for $10,000,000 (or however much it takes), hire a staff, create a process, set fees, reserve it exclusively for Brentwood citizens, and do our best as a city to get it to make $750,000 annual profit.  We could possibly even hire a company to run it for us like a private club.
  • We could revisit the idea of a collaboration with Williamson County on an Indoor Tennis & Pickleball facility.  Given input from county commissioners, while this will be a challenge, it is not impossible.  The first step would be for Brentwood City Commission to revisit and pass resolution 2023-57 as originally presented authorizing city and county staff to discuss details.  While this goes on, the Brentwood Mayor and Commissioners should reach out to Williamson County officials to rebuild support for a cost effective, collaborative tennis & pickleball facility at Crockett Park back and try to get it back in the pipeline in time to be operational before the Williamson County racquet facility in Maryland Farms goes offline for demolition.

I think it is important for citizens to weigh in with their commissioners to let them know which of these three approaches you would prefer we take.  I can be reached at or 615.917.1384, and you can find contact information for all the commissioners here.

Mountain Bike Trails at Marcelle Vivrette Smith Park

The "crew" who worked on building the trail this summer.
  • At this summer’s workday, Bike Walk Brentwood and Citizens for Brentwood Greenspace had over 70 people participate.  They completed .75 miles of trail and will start building the remaining 1.75 miles on October 28th.

  • The group has raised over $70,000 and is close to completing their fundraising goal of $85k to finish the citizen build portion.
  • Details on the next workday are:
    • WHAT: Smith Park MTB Workday
    • WHERE: 1825 Wilson Pike, Brentwood, TN 37027
    • WHEN: Saturday October 28th @ 9AM to 11AM
  • Link to sign up for the workday
  • Link to Donate

Roundabout @ Murray Lane & Hollytree Gap

Future roundabout at the intersection of Murray Lane and Hollytree Gap
  • This project is coming along well and we are making progress.

  • At this point, engineering is completing the right-of-way acquisition and we are optimistic that no condemnation will be required.
  • We hope the final design will be fully engineered and out to bid by the end of this calendar year.

Trails & Access to Parks

Thank you to all who reached out about pedestrian access to our parks, and about the possibility of a Deerwood Connection to River Oaks in particular.  If you have not heard already, there is an opportunity to buy a piece of property with potential for a bridge between River Oaks and Deerwood Park & Arboretum.  According to long-time city commissioners, Brentwood has been looking for an opportunity like this for years, and this could open up pedestrian and bike access for an area of the city where it is very limited.

While I’m told the property owners considering selling this land to the City of Brentwood have an offer to sell to a private buyer, Brentwood can submit a backup offer in case the first offer falls through. For the city to exercise the option, Brentwood should do proper due diligence for safety and cost effectiveness, among other things, as well as hold a community meeting to gather feedback.

This conversation prompted me to look at Brentwood’s “bigger picture”, and I pulled up our online walking & biking trails map to see what the access looks in different parts of town.  The difference between the East Side of I65 and the West Side is notable.

For instance, this is what the trails connecting Crockett Park to local neighborhoods look like (trails are the red dotted/dashed lines).

Map of trails around Crockett Park and East Brentwood TN

While it is not entirely complete, you can get around many neighborhoods and to our library, parks, & schools without using public roads.

When we looked at Deerwood during a Commission briefing, it is considerably different:

River Oaks can only access the park by either driving or wading across the river.  I also noticed that Wildwood only has walking/running/cycling access to the rest of Brentwood either by coming across Belle Rive Dr. with no shoulders or sidewalks, or Old Hickory Blvd, which no one should ever try.  If something doesn’t open up for another route and Belle Rive Dr. gets any busier, Wildwood could end up on an island apart from the rest of Brentwood.

At our City Commission briefing October 5th, staff asked the commissioners if we were supportive of an effort to explore this further. Three commissioners were supportive of evaluating the opportunity, but four were not, saying they don’t feel like the people most impacted are supportive.  You can find the full discussion video on the city website at starting 17:27 into the meeting.

Personally, I would not want to build access unless it is feasible, safe, generally supported by the community and not require the City of Brentwood to condemn anyone’s land.  That said, I think it is important to find out if it is feasible, safe, and generally supported.  At the briefing, one of the commissioners suggested that instead of looking here, we invest the same money into improvement for bike/pedestrian access on Belle Rive Dr., which I also generally support, but with the same qualifications (feasible, safe, generally supported by the residents, and not requiring condemnation).  I’ve heard from several sources that this was investigated a few years back, and it would in all likelihood require condemnation of some private property owned by Belle Rive residents.

If you would like to comment, please reach out by email, phone, or by speaking at one of our City Commission meetings (2nd the 4th Monday every month, 7pm at City Hall in Brentwood).  You can find contact information for all the commissioners on the City Website here.


I’m working to keep Brentwood Safe, Clean and Beautiful, and appreciate your support!

Nelson Andrews

Commissioner, City of Brentwood

“From Brentwood, For Brentwood”


Thank you again for your feedback. I enjoy my work on Brentwood City Commission and look forward to continuing to represent the Citizens of Brentwood.

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