CW news: Preservation compromise: Build library on football field
Preservation compromise: Build library on football field
By PEGGY SHAW Staff Writer Williamson AM
FRANKLIN — After years of debating the location of the new Williamson County library, officials decided on the old Battle Ground Academy property off Columbia Avenue.
But preservationists interested in maintaining what little open space is left near ''ground zero'' of the 1864 Battle of Franklin are hoping for a final concession before the county breaks ground this month.
Herschel Smith III, a Franklin resident who considers himself a loner among local government and preservation groups, will propose to the Williamson County Public Library board on Wednesday that the new library be relocated from where the campus tennis courts now exist to the football field. The public meeting is scheduled to take place at 8 a.m.
County officials now plan to build the two-story, 50,225-square-foot library in the tennis courts area of the old BGA property, in the heart of where the Battle of Franklin took place on Nov. 30, 1864.
But Smith argues that no changes would have to be made to the building
plans if the library is instead built on the football field, and the new location ensures that more of the battleground would be left open for a battlefield memorial park.
''All it takes is a move and a 90-degree shift and it still works,'' Smith said. ''The design doesn't change. It's the same building.''
In addition, if property becomes available from the new library north to Carter House where entrenched U.S. troops were attacked by the Confederate Army of Tennessee, it could be added to the expanse of open battlefield land, Smith said. Building on the tennis courts would block any chance for such an open expanse, he argues.
''You could end up with open space down the corridor, which would be meaningful. But if you put the library by the tennis courts, it's in the middle of a future park,'' said Smith. ''You can't save it all but you've got to save the heart of it.''
Smith lists as an advantage the ability to connect a future museum and archives (existing BGA buildings) to the new library either by breezeways or corridors. ''The old BGA buildings could create a historic and pleasing façade to the complex of old and new buildings while still recognizing the BGA stewardship of the battlefield.''
He also suggests that if the library is sited on the old football field, some kind of observation deck could be built so that patrons could look over a bigger expanse of battlefield.
Al Ritter, Williamson County property manager, said construction on the library is scheduled to begin by mid-month on the 3-acre site from the tennis courts to the football practice field.
''We've gone through a long time of planning and siting this facility, hired a reputable architecture firm, done pre-soil and archaeological investigation on the site. All this has been accomplished over the last year,'' Ritter said. ''The plans have been designed and developed and the county officials have approved the plans, so anything you do, the plans would have to be redrawn. The complete site design, which includes parking lots, driveways, utilities and all that stuff, has to be coordinated properly.''
If the library building designed by architects at Everton Oglesby Askew Architects of Nashville were re-sited to the football field area, construction on the building would also have to be delayed. According to Chip Parks, middle school principal at BGA, the school will still be using the football field for physical education classes, football games and soccer matches this fall.
Library board meetings, where Smith's proposal will be presented April 3, usually are held the third Thursday of each month. Smith had requested a hearing in March, but that meeting was canceled because of a lack of agenda items and difficulty getting a quorum, said Jim Cross, chairman. The early April meeting was scheduled after Smith requested time to speak about the new proposal.
The Franklin battlefield was named to a national top 10 endangered list by the Civil War Preservation Trust earlier this month.