Franklin, Tn - Staying the Course
Staying The Course:
Country club members told of plan to protect links from development
By CLINT CONFEHR / Review Appeal Senior Staff Reporter
Members of the Country Club of Franklin on Tuesday met with Ron Heller, the Washington, D.C., resident who's purchased the club's property in anticipation of its preservation as part of the Civil War battlefield here.
"The meeting was to clarify his intentions, which are to preserve the property so that it would not become homes or subdivisions as it was going to be before he purchased the property," said Bob Putt, general manager of the club.
Heller bought the country club from developers, closing on the $5 million purchase in November.
"He has challenged the community to support his purchase," Putt said. "He is willing to sell it for preservation for the same amount."
Franklin's Board of Mayor and Aldermen has started the process of selling $10 million worth of municipal bonds to be spent on acquisition of open space, most notably Harlinsdale Farm on Franklin Road, but also the country club property. A series of private efforts have begun to further the cause of the purchase and find grants and
Since his purchase of the country club, Heller has leased the property back to the business which has been serving members of what's become a course open to the public.
"The term of our lease is a 10-year option with the capability to terminate earlier in November of 2005," Putt said.
He explained that Heller had been in China and Belgium for nearly two months, so he wanted to speak directly to the membership.
"It didn't bring absolute certainty," said Warner Bass of Nashville, who attended as a member of the board of the Civil War Preservation Trust. "They're golfers and enjoy the club and would like to see it continue as a private club, understandably so."
The trust is a national group based in Washington, D.C., for preservation and protection of Civil War battlefields. Heller was on the board of the trust's predecessor organization.
"He was very heavily involved," Bass said.
About 100 people listened to and spoke with Heller for about an hour at the country club visible from Lewisburg Pike.
While in Franklin on Tuesday, Heller also conferred with preservationists in a loosely organized group called the Coalition for the Preservation of Historic Open Space, said Robert Hicks, one of perhaps a dozen who spoke with Heller.
The coalition is preparing a public campaign for their cause, which prompted the group to form in early 2003, Hicks said.
He named Julian Bibb, Mary Pearce, Angela Calhoun, Danny Anderson, Warner Bass, Jeanie Nelson, Rudy Jordan, Rick Warwick, Mary Brockman and Ernie Bacon as those who "are trying to be sure that Harlinsdale and the eastern flank of the Franklin Battlefield are preserved.
"Here is a chance for the preservation community to get ahead of the curve," Bass said, "instead of being reactive" to development ideas such as Parkway Commons now being built with a Target store and Kroger grocery at Columbia Avenue and Mack Hatcher Parkway.
Such efforts will further development of heritage tourism. "Heritage tourism is a very desirable business to have," Bass said. "Heritage tourists generally spend more money and come in greater numbers.
"Franklin can utilize its battlefield. The golf course is an opportunity to make a big start in that direction."