Mayor John Cooper was joined by council members, city department directors, and the family of Kossie Gardner, Sr. for the grand opening ceremony of Kossie Gardner, Sr. Park on Monday.
The beautiful new green space on Jefferson Street was named in honor of one of the city’s most well-known entrepreneurs, Kossie Gardner, Sr.
The park is just across the street from where Gardner, an influential African American businessman, operated a thriving funeral home. Designed as a gathering space to accommodate events, music and other outdoor activities, the park features a lawn, play equipment, plaza space and a mural wall. The quarter-acre site will ultimately become a civic space where Nashvillians can engage history, culture, and community.
“Several city departments collaborated to make this space a recreational option for both new and old residents,” said Monique Odom, Metro Parks director.
The park was initially developed by Metro Water Services to detain stormwater in underground cisterns. Metro Parks funded the park design. Construction was funded by the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency through a community development grant. Metro’s Arts Commission will assist the community in developing a mural program on the new expression wall, and the Metro Historical Commission helped develop the historical sign with local historians from TSU, Fisk and the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Council-at-large Sharon Hurt shared a quote that Kossie Gardner, Sr.’s legacy reminds her of.
“The goal isn’t to live forever. It is to create something that will,” she said. “Mr. Gardner’s legacy lives in the hearts and minds of so many business owners and entrepreneurs and gives them the audacity to dare to dream.”
The granddaughter and grandson of Kossie Gardner, Sr., Keisha Gardner Beard and Kossie Gardner III, were in attendance on behalf of “the children, all of the grand children, and all of the great grandchildren.”
“We are so humbled and honored at this occasion, and we want to thank the everybody for this opportunity. We are so humbled,” said Gardner Beard, Kossie Gardner Sr.’s, granddaughter.
“A pocket park in the heart of a neighborhood brings the city together,” said Mayor Cooper who recalled that the park initially was to be named the Jefferson Street Pocket Park. “We are celebrating two things: a park and a person. Today we think about the type of future that Mr. Gardner’s legacy inspires for a community that he loved—and we recommitted to doing that work.”
Several participants in Monday’s event brought various items to place in a time capsule that will be buried in the park and opened in November 2030.