January 27, 2009

New Frankin Downtown Park may be completed soon

Financial concerns hasten downtown Franklin park construction
THE TENNESSEAN • January 27, 2009

FRANKLIN — Work on Bicentennial Park, a city project that's had more discussion than progress since its groundbreaking a decade ago, could finally speed up this year, courtesy of scaled-back options for its construction.
City Parks Director Lisa Clayton is recommending aldermen pursue the use of state greenway money to establish a trail system on the land, which sits along the Harpeth River and North Margin Street, and use city crews to grade and replant grass on the 20-plus acres. Much of the land is in the river's floodplain and includes the site of a former boot factory.

This change would dramatically reduce costs for a park that in 2007 had a $29 million construction budget approved by aldermen. Since the groundbreaking for the park in 1999, architect's plans called for creating space for outdoor concerts, installing jets of water as well as "story panel" murals depicting the area's history.
But financial worries and a change of leadership at City Hall have curtailed those ideas. Mayor John Schroer sees the park's future as being a simple, passive park where families can picnic.
"Hopefully, by this summer, if we can get it all done, it will be grassy and open and people will be able to use it," Schroer said.
Clayton wants aldermen's approval to pursue building a trail system on the east side of the park on the site of a former junkyard. The trail would progress toward Hillsboro Road.
The city could access $730,000 in state greenway grant money by providing matching grant funds of $151,000 to the project, according to city records. City parks crews could also replant grass on the site using topsoil from park work going on at the Harlinsdale Farm park project.
Meanwhile, city attorneys are planning to condemn six tracts of land along Fourth Avenue where the Third Avenue extension will be built. Part of that land will be used in the park's final plan.

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