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Franklin city staff shares updates on upcoming park, road projects

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Virtual FrankTalks City Hall on Wheels

Mindy Tate, executive director of Franklin Tomorrow, moderated a conversation with Franklin Parks Director Lisa Clayton (top right), City Administrator Eric Stuckey (bottom right) and Franklin Engineering Director Paul Holzen (bottom left).

Bulldozers, orange cones and traffic are creeping towards pre-pandemic levels again in Franklin, and the city is moving on through its long list of capital projects with more confidence in its revenue streams this year as COVID-19 cases subside.

Franklin Tomorrow Executive Director Mindy Tate and Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey led the “City Hall on Wheels” edition of Franklin Tomorrow’s monthly FrankTalks lecture series on Monday, highlighting some of the events and projects coming up in Franklin this year and beyond.

Events return to downtown

Stuckey shared that large crowds may be common again in downtown Franklin starting this summer, as the annual Fourth of July celebration at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm will take place in a couple weeks, and the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’s Main Street Festival will return this year in July.

A little farther down the road, the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival will take place again at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm in September.

Even Franklin Tomorrow’s events will begin to shy away from a fully virtual model, as future FrankTalks will be held at Eastern Flank Battlefield Park.

Park projects coming down the pike

Additionally, the city is working on some projects that will provide new venues for events and community gatherings. Franklin Parks Director Lisa Clayton shared updates on some of those projects Monday.

First up was the Southeast Municipal Complex, which is a 233-acre park near Berry Farms that will include the city’s first inclusive playground, called Ellie G’s Dreamworld.

“Franklin Tomorrow … and those in the community — they have been working on an inclusive playground in our community for at least five to seven years,” Clayton said, highlighting the city’s partnership with Franklin Tomorrow.

She shared that the city will soon announce a private-public partnership concerning this project, with Friends of Franklin Parks being the primary fundraising body for the roughly $3 million playground and park.

Also, in Southeast Park, the city will do some work on Robinson Lake, created by a dam in need of some maintenance. Clayton said the entire property flooded during the most recent flooding events in March, so the city will work to bring the water level down and fix a leak in the dam.

“It was a farm pond for many years, and the overall goal is that we’ll have walking trails around this lake. It’ll be an open space, event area,” she said.

Closer to the center of town, the city is working on further development of Bicentennial Park, set to be finished near the end of 2022.

“My goal before I retire — and I started very young — is to have Bicentennial Park completed,” Clayton said. “For me, it kind of rounds out our downtown. We have such a vibrant downtown, and it will add so much.”

The city is also working on restoration and enhancement projects at Harlinsdale Farm with its main barn, the historic Hayes House and trails for increased connectivity.

Upcoming road and connectivity projects

In fact, the city has several trail and sidewalk projects in the hopper.

The Mack Hatcher northwest extension project, slated for completion in September, will include a multiuse trail. The city is also working on a multiuse trail on New Highway 96 West to be finished by January, which will stretch from Vera Valley Drive to Fifth Avenue downtown.

The city is upgrading the bridge on West Main Street in 2023 to accommodate pedestrian traffic, and by the end of 2025, a new multiuse trail on Lewisburg Pike will be complete.

Of course, the long-awaited Franklin Road improvements will also add sidewalks and streetscaping, to be completed roughly by September of next year.

A couple other big changes include improvements to the East McEwen Drive interchange, which will add an additional left turn lane by January; the widening of that road from Cool Springs Boulevard to Wilson Pike, which will take place in 2026; and the extension of the road from Wilson Pike to the Franklin city limits, which may be picked up by the city of Brentwood and continued farther.

Additionally, Liberty Pike upgrades, which will include two dual-lane roundabouts at Stanwick Drive and at Mallory Lane and North Royal Oaks Boulevard, will finish in mid-2026.

Stuckey said all of these projects are fully funded within the city’s 10-year capital plan. Paul Holzen, Franklin’s engineering director, added that he’s excited to see some of these projects making way in their construction phases.

“I get very excited when I start seeing orange cones and barrels go up around town, because it’s a huge amount of work to deliver a capital project,” he said.

The city is also currently gathering public input on a couple projects unrelated to roadwork.

The first is an update to the historic district design guidelines. The Franklin Planning & Sustainability Department is asking for community feedback via a survey found at FranklinTN.gov/DesignGuidelinesUpdate.

Additionally, the city is in its preliminary phases of conceptualizing a new City Hall building to replace the current facility on Franklin’s Public Square. Residents can learn more and share their thoughts at Complete-The-Square.com.

To learn more about Franklin Tomorrow and its upcoming events, visit FranklinTomorrow.org.

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