The Tennessean • July 9, 2008
FRANKLIN — The ponies and earthmovers are now running neck and neck — so to speak — at Harlinsdale Farm.
After months of sitting fallow, development of The Park at Harlinsdale Farm is now in earnest as crews are completing a $2.3 million project to install a new access road and parking areas.
Purchased for $8 million in 2004, the 200-acre park facing Franklin Road is now moving closer to opening permanently to the public. City Parks Director Lisa Clayton said the public would be able to begin using the park again next spring.
"We're moving right along," Clayton said. "I'm ready to have a parking area, I'm ready for people to be on the property and I'm ready for people to be using it."
But this construction is only the latest part of the project that will likely take years to complete. The cost of this current phase increased by $839,080 from $1.51 million to $2.35 million.
For now, Clayton is beaming about the current work. Crews are uprooting the green pastureland — for the time being — to grade the former grass to install the new roadway as well as underground water and sewer utilities.
Rest assured, she said, that the farm's horses are not in danger of being hurt by any of the machinery.
But the crews are taking "green" construction measures, using a pervious concrete that allows water to flow through it, unlike traditional asphalt, she said. And storm water will flow toward the Harpeth River and a new retention pond that's being installed on the rear of the property near the city's wastewater treatment plant.
"We'll constantly have water in (the pond), and that will serve as irrigation," Clayton said.
Though the new road and parking areas are changing the farm's look, Clayton said the farm's barn isn't going anywhere, though its condition has been a source of concern. It has been considered for possible use as the park's visitors center.
"The reason the city bought it was to preserve it. We're not going to demolish any building," she said.
Built in 1935, the two-story barn is the farm's horse stable and would be the park's centerpiece, able to accommodate tours while continuing as a walking-horse stable.
However, the structure is not up to fire codes, needs roof work and has termite damage, among other problems.
Clayton wants $100,000 from the city to replace the barn's roof, but she may have to wait for the funding. Last month, aldermen voted 5-1 to wait to approve $1.6 million for installing new restroom facilities at the park until they could discuss all the city's capital improvement projects.
Alderman Dan Klatt was the only alderman who voted against deferring the project, saying it was not "reasonable or fair" to ask construction crews to wait until later this summer to start.
Alderman Ann Petersen, who led the motion to defer, said she wants the work deferred to part of the larger discussion about all the city's capital projects.
Meanwhile, construction at the former walking-horse breeding operation has drawn attention from passersby concerned about the effect on the land.
"I had a resident call me and she said, 'You're really disturbing the property,' " Clayton said. "We sure are. But you're seeing more of the top of the grass pasture come off first because we've had to put in new utilities. . . . All of that will be pastureland again."