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FRANKLIN BOMA tackles full plate of agenda item: Costly road expansion, Five Points Post Office and a ban on financial transactions on city streets

In its work session, the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday debated how much – or how little – the city can spend to improve a notoriously treacherous road, listened to what the agreement might look like should the city lease a Five Points landmark to a Tennessee bank, and heard a proposed amendment that pits public safety versus free commerce and free speech – and all this before electing Ward 2 Alderman Dana McLendon as vice mayor.

David Parker, city engineer, told BOMA that his office would soon provide drawings for various options to widen and re-route multiple portions of South Carothers Parkway, a highly-traveled residential artery known for its lack of shoulder, blind hills, perilous driveway connections, and jagged dogleg turns.

“Step one is to talk about the design,” City Administrator Eric Stuckey said at the meeting. “Step two is to look at the financial aspect.”

The project would likely cost between $13 million and “at least” $20 million, according to one official. The cost variances depend upon the whether the project would include two-lane improvements or four, and whether to include medians and turning lanes, curbing and gutters, and possibly a bridge.

At-large Alderman Clyde Barnhill advocated fiscal prudence, limiting the project to what would immediately benefit motor vehicles and facilitate traffic flow.

“We need as much emphasis on the road as we can get,” he said. “We don't necessarily need bike lanes or walking trails – we need the road itself.”

The issue is a pressing one, as hundreds of residents from several large subdivisions use South Carothers Parkway as their primary access point to Highway 96. Several more proposed subdivisions are either approved for development or under consideration. Scores of residents from the existing subdivisions have asked BOMA to fast track the improvements before the construction begins, citing safety concerns. The matter is complicated as the residents of the subdivisions on the east side of South Carothers are not represented by a specific alderman due to the way the zoning map is drawn.

Ward 2 Alderman and outgoing Vice Mayor Michael Skinner advocated for parity between North Carothers Parkway, which is a finished project that services largely commercial properties, and the residential portion south of Highway 96, South Carothers Parkway.

“I don't want to compromise our plan because money is tight,” Skinner said. “Once we build it, we're never going to come back to do improvements. We should do right by those people like we did north of [Highway] 96. They should have the bike paths and whatever else, too.”

First Bank inches closer to Five Points lease

Stuckey also presented an overview of what a lease with First Bank might look like if the city were to rent to it the Post Office Building at Five Points. Stuckey indicated that the city would likely offer the bank a 20-year lease with the option for two 10-year renewals. The Williamson Herald previously reported the lease would provide the option for only one 10-year renewal. The Tennessee-based bank has committed to spend $3.5 million in repairs to the 88-year-old structure as part of the agreement. The rent would be $2,000 per month for the 15,740-square-foot building that currently houses a contractor for the U.S. Postal Service and the Heritage Foundation. Part of the lease would provide each entity the option to stay, although the Heritage Foundation leaders at Tuesday's meeting indicated it would likely relocate.

The proposal “provides for [both tenants] to stay in this building under existing terms with adjustments to the rent,” Stuckey said. “First Bank is working with the Heritage Foundation about their relocation. This will be resolved when we reach the final lease arrangement.”

Several BOMA members indicated they have reservations about the potential lease of the downtown landmark. No members of the public spoke when Mayor Dr. Ken Moore opened the floor to comments. When the matter was open for public comment in September, the president for the Franklin Downtown Neighborhood Association asked BOMA to refuse the proposal. BOMA has yet to vote on the measure.

City likely to ban in-street transactions

BOMA is also considering an ordinance that would ban financial transactions on public streets, be it commercial sales or charitable giving. Brentwood recently passed a similar measure, a law that the American Civil Liberties Union indirectly challenged in court and lost in mid-November. The Brentwood case involved homeless or recently homeless individuals selling copies of The Contributor to motorists.

“This is entirely driven by safety,” Stuckey said. “You can do it on the sidewalk, and you can do it on private property. But activity in the street is not safe for anyone involved.”

McLendon named vice mayor

At the regular meeting, BOMA elected Ward 2 Alderman Dana McLendon to a one-year term as vice mayor. McLendon, who previously held the post in 2000-01, replaces Michael Skinner from Ward 3. BOMA also reappointed Danny Anderson to a five-year term on the Historic Zoning Commission, and the following to three-year terms to the Battlefield Preservation Commission: David Eagan, representing the Sons of Confederate Veterans; Mike Grainger, at-large representative; Eric Jacobson, representing the Battle of Franklin Trust; Mark Shore, representing the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau;Margie Thessin, representing Franklin on Foot;  and J.T. Thompson, representing the Lotz House.

 

Posted on: 11/29/2012

 
 

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