Widow Offers $250,000 Donation for Caldwell Nature Park to be Renamed in Honor of Late Husband

BY: Micca Terrell

A local widow proposes to rename of Caldwell Nature Park in honor of her late husband in exchange for a $250,000 donation to the Town of Ashland City. In a letter to the Ashland City Council, Jane Crisp said she would present the proposal to the Mayor and Council at the regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 25.

Crisp said she and her husband Doug O’Rear discovered the park off Highway 12 several years ago, and that the park was a hidden gem they did not realize existed. O’Rear, a local minister who was active in many community organizations such as Safe Haven, Kiwanis, and the Cheatham County Historical Association, died of Covid-19 in July 2020.

“My husband was a very philanthropic person, and he expressed a wish to make a gift to a park or even gift a park as a memorial,” she said. Caldwell Nature Park is a “hidden gem valued by many residents of Ashland City and now by some that never knew it existed before recent publicity,” Crisp explained.

Concerned citizens formed the Save Caldwell Nature Park group after council members discussed during their March 9th meeting possibly selling the more than 90-acre natural area to Cheatham County in an effort to add land to the Industrial Park. Economic development officials said that several parties have expressed interest in the land, but that the hilly terrain in the back of the property would make it difficult to develop.

Crisp suggested she would make a one-time gift of $200,000 to the Town of Ashland City for use in any of the Ashland City Parks. In addition, she would make a one-time gift of $50,000 to the Town of Ashland City for the sole purpose of construction of restrooms and a picnic pavilion near the entrance of what is now called Caldwell Nature Park.

In return, Crisp said she would like the park’s name to be changed to the Doug O’Rear Nature Park, as well as the addition of a sign on Highway 12 marking the turn off to the park and changing the signage at the park to reflect the new name.

To prevent the city from selling the park land in the future, Crisp has requested that “a lien be placed against the said park land in the future in the amount of $250,000 plus 5% interest per annum to come due only at the time of a sale of said park property. Said lien to be paid to Jane R. Crisp or her heirs.”

She also requested that the Town of Ashland City set a dedication and memorial service for her late husband at the park as soon as possible and that the Ashland City Parks Department would maintain the park including the marking of nature trails and consider allowing the area of the park north of the small creek to return to natural meadow land with a trail through it going to the other trails. Crisp also said she would also donate a park bench with a life-sized statue of O’Rear for the park.

The Council Meeting is open to the public and will be held Tuesday, May 25, at the Senior Center at Ashland City on Ruth Drive. To look at the full agenda, go to the council’s website at https://www.ashlandcitytn.gov/citycouncil.

For more information on Save Caldwell Nature Park, check their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Save-Caldwell-Nature-Park-108407258046833/.