"Do Not Build It, and They Will Come" New Motto for Franklin Preservationists
Jan. 15, 2002--A campaign to save as much as possible of the property where the bitter center of battle took place in Franklin Tennessee is continuing as a new and unexpected ally has joined the fight.
County Executive Clint Callicott was supposed to present his proposal to use a large portion of the 12 acre site as a passive park dedicated to the battle to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Franklin late last week. He was delayed by another speaking engagement and arrived after the unusually short meeting had been adjourned.
Callicott promised to make the presentation at next month's meeting instead, the Franklin Review & Appeal reported. Relations between the county government, headed by Callicott, and the city government represented by the mayor and alderman's board, have not always been entirely cheerful and cooperative.
Cooperation is needed in this case, however, as the proposal Callicott is promoting calls for expenses for the park, as well as a number of other Civil War related projects, to be shared 50-50 between city and county.
Other projects would include making agreements with property owners on Columbia Avenue between the proposed park and the Carter House, to sell their property to the park authority as they become vacant. The area is primarily residential but some small businesses operate in the block in question.
Joe Smythe of Save the Franklin Battlefield Inc. and fellow Franklin history enthusiast Herschel Smith think the plan is terrific. They would particularly like the library that is proposed to be built on one portion of the Battle Ground Academy land to be moved to another site. Local observers say this is unlikely.
But the use of the remainder of the land as a passive Civil War park seems to be gaining momentum. Callicott has commissioned a study from the consulting firm of Mudpuppy & Waterdog of Versailles, KY. That company has come back with a list of three options for presenting the town's Civil War history in a way to attract the maximum possible revenue from historic tourism.
"All we have to do is not build stuff, and they will come," is how Smythe phrased it. When not working to preserve the history of the town where he has lived for 20 years, Smythe is the drummer for the band Sawyer Brown.
Smith, also a longtime resident and a pilot for Southwest Airlines, told the paper that he realizes the entire plan, especially the addition of the houses between the park and the Carter House, will take years to accomplish.
Other government officials are starting to contemplate the plan with greater enthusiasm, although reservations remain.
Franklin City Administrator Jay Johnson said that while the property buyout might be a good idea, asking prices frequently escalate when governmental agencies are doing the buying. He proposed that a nonprofit foundation, such as exist at other Civil War parks and battle sites, might be a better option for such plans.
Callicott has a personal deadline to meet to accomplish his plans for the Civil War park. His term of office ends in August of this year and he has announced he is not seeking reelection.
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