PRESS RELEASE: Centennial Park's Cockrill Spring Sees Daylight After More Than a Century Underground

August 8, 2014

Mayor, Metro Parks mark start of construction for new pedestrian entrance of park showcasing restored spring as prominent interactive water feature

Nashville, Tenn. (August 8, 2014) - After more than a century underground, construction has begun to "daylight" the historic Cockrill Spring at Centennial Park. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean today was joined by leaders at Metro Parks and The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park to remove the cover at the base of Cockrill Spring to officially mark the beginning of the construction project.

The unearthed spring will be a prominent feature of a new pedestrian entrance into the park at West End Avenue near 27th Avenue North, where it will surface and spill into a meandering rill - a stone-lined channel - before sinking back into the ground where the water will be used to irrigate the grounds and supply Lake Watauga.

The revived spring is part of Phase 1 improvements for the park's comprehensive restoration that began last year. The Centennial Park Master Plan project is led by Metro Parks, The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park and a master planning committee appointed by Mayor Karl Dean in 2008 to initiate the restoration process.

"Since its creation over a century ago, Centennial Park has been at the heart of our city as a prominent place for community, music, recreation and the arts," Mayor Dean said. "I appreciate the Conservancy and all the support it provides to Centennial's master plan. This first step to daylight Cockrill Spring lays the course for Centennial Park to remain the crown jewel of our city's park system for the next century and beyond."

Cockrill Spring produces 100 gallons of fresh water every minute. The new project will bring the spring to the surface surrounded by a new public plaza. Pools and cascades will feed into a winding manmade channel, inviting visitors to wade in the cool, clear spring water and explore the site. After flowing through wetland native gardens, the water will be collected and used to irrigate park environs and pumped to Lake Watauga. The project is scheduled to be completed by summer 2015.

"This is an extremely exciting day," said Metro Parks director Tommy Lynch. "By daylighting Cockrill Spring, we're creating an entirely new feature at the park's front door. The new pedestrian entrance will be a welcoming invitation for visitors to take advantage of everything Centennial Park has to offer, and is a wonderful addition to what is already one of the country's premier parks."

Cockrill Spring has a long history. It was a popular watering stop for travelers along the Natchez Trace dating back to the mid eighteenth century. By the mid nineteenth century, the city had an overabundance of water supply, and concern for water-borne diseases at the time led to the covering of the spring with its water being diverted to a sewer. Metro workers discovered the source of the spring in 2012, finding that it still produces thousands of gallons of fresh water every day, and leading designers to incorporate it into the park's restoration.

The daylighting of Cockrill Spring is the latest project entailing over $9.5 million of improvements for the first phase of Centennial Park's restoration. Through four separate capital spending plans approved by the Metro Council, Mayor Dean has allocated $8 million for the implementation of the Centennial Park Master Plan. Metro Water Services is also contributing $1.2 million in capital funds toward the daylighting of Cockrill Spring. Earlier this year Lake Watauga was cleaned. New aeration and circulation pumps were installed in the lake as well as vegetated floating wetland islands to absorb pollutants which have contributed to the poor quality of the lake water. Phase 1 will also include a new permanent venue for Musicians Corner, one of Nashville's most popular live music events, as well as parking improvements surrounding the Parthenon. Renowned landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz led the design of Phase 1 in collaboration with Nashville's Hodgson & Douglas.

"It is wonderful to see such amazing progress on the first phase of the park's restoration," said Sylvia Rapoport, president of The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park. "None of it would be possible without an effective public/private partnership. There has been a remarkable outpouring of support from the community, and that says a lot about the way this city values Centennial Park. We look forward to continuing to build that partnership and carrying that momentum through subsequent phases of the park's restoration."

The Conservancy, a nonprofit organization committed to improving and promoting the park through private sector support, raised over $1 million for Phase 1 of the of the Centennial Park Master Plan, a six-phase plan created in 2011 to restore and enhance the park.