Readers sound offon the price of preservation in Franklin
- Historic Opinions:Readers sound offon the price of preservation in Franklin
Franklin's Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week made a commitment to spend up to $2.5 million in matching funds to buy Country Club of Franklin off Lewisburg Avenue for development as a battlefield park. City officials say this commitment is not legally binding, and they could change their minds for a variety of reasons, including if the purchase is not completed by Nov. 30, 2005.
Your Voices asked you to answer the question, ''Is Franklin's past its future?'' Here's what you had to say.Franklin's buried treasure
The past is always a part of our future. There are millions of people who treasure visiting battlefields every year and we finally have an administration that seems to understand this. We are sitting on one of the most tragic and studied battlegrounds in the entire United States, and this could translate into lots of tourism in the future. But we have to have something for them to see other than the Gen. Cleburne Memorial Pizza Hut or the Gen. Granbury Memorial Domino's!
I would hope that we could relocate some of the businesses that sit upon the heart of the battlefield. The city is sprawling in every direction, so they should be able to find a lucrative location and continue on. We could create a fitting battlefield park here to tell the tragic, and brutal, heartbreaking story of the five deadly hours that basically eliminated one of the two great armies of the Confederacy.
I just hope it can be done without political correctness and/or history revision!
Plan takes jobs
The preservationists are right to try to preserve battlefields and promote tourism.
The preservationists are wrong to use taxpayers' money to do it.
The preservationists are wrong to destroy ongoing businesses like Country Club of Franklin and the Pizza Hut, etc. There is still open land that can be preserved as battlefield. Take a look across the road from the Tractor Supply Store at the end of the Mack Hatcher Bypass.
I am not a member of the CC of Franklin, nor am I a stockholder in Pizza Hut. I do, however, have two children, one who works at the CC of Franklin and one who works at the Pizza Hut.
The preservationists are wrong to take away their jobs, period.
The public good
I picture a national park with RV camps within easy access; motels with swimming pools adorning the countryside; and a couple of casinos to enhance the night life. We could use eminent domain to seize property for parking lots; after all, it's in the public good. No way!
Tourists are ready to spend
Franklin's past is its future. A part of living in this beautiful area is to appreciate not only the advantages of Franklin as a bustling vibrant city but to be a part of the history that helped to make Franklin what it is today. I live here because of the active community involvement in preserving the past and saving this history for now and all future generations. How can we expect to teach our children the lessons of yesterday if we continue to ignore preservation and tear down and destroy any remaining examples of our past? The city and its residents should show overwhelming support for the creation of this battlefield park.
Due to our history, Franklin and Williamson County attract many visitors with the Chamber of Commerce reporting that travel-related expenditures in Williamson County were $180.61 million for 2002. The existence of the battlefield park has potential to bring much-needed revenue and can serve as a place for residents and visitors alike to come together to enjoy an important part of the Franklin heritage.
Acting on a second chance
I am writing you to express my support for the $2.5 million matching grant to buy the Country Club of Franklin site along Lewisburg Pike. This site, located adjacent to the historic Carnton Plantation, played an important role in the most tumultuous day in Franklin history during the Civil War.
By purchasing this property from the hands of a developer, entrepreneur Roderick Heller III has given the city of Franklin an unprecedented opportunity — an opportunity to turn back time and reclaim a critical part of Franklin battlefield.
I have visited the Franklin area several times, and all because of the rich Civil War- related history of the area. In fact, I was just there recently as I visited the Franklin and Spring Hill areas during the 140th anniversary events and reenactments of the Battles of Franklin, Spring Hill/Columbia and Nashville.
Although I have enjoyed my previous visits, it is very disappointing that so little of the original battlefield of Franklin is preserved. I would be much more apt to visit and stay longer in Franklin if more of the original battlefield was preserved and set up for interpretation with markers, monuments and the like so it would be more visitor-friendly and more enjoyable.
That is why I was very excited to see that the Franklin city Budget Committee has recommended approval of the $2.5 million matching grant that would help preserve a very important part of the original Franklin battlefield. The Budget Committee recognized, as I do, that this grant is an investment in Franklin's future. The battlefield park, once opened to the public, will attract thousands of tourists eager to spend their money in the city. As a small example, the 140th anniversary events and reenactments held recently just south of Spring Hill attracted over 200,000 spectators during a three-day weekend alone. There were an additional 12,000-plus reenactors and over 100 ''sutlers'' or business people as well. This alone should help prove how valuable a battlefield/history-related park area would be to the city and future of Franklin.
When people look for somewhere to travel, they don't want to go visit a country club or another shopping mall. They want to visit parks like Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Park, which I have here in my hometown of Chattanooga. Franklin has a rich Civil War history like my hometown, where a major and important battle was fought, which interests and intrigues so many history buffs and enthusiasts.
After years of neglect, Franklin has been given a second chance to save part of its unique heritage. I urge you to vote for the $2.5 million matching grant and give Franklin the battlefield park that it deserves. Thank you, and I pray you will make the right decision for the future of Franklin and our state of Tennessee.
Dr. Michael Brown
A missed opportunity
It seems to me that Williamson County is missing out on a marvelous tool for marketing itself and drawing visitors (and their dollars) — our Civil War battlefield. History was made at Franklin and is very under recognized. Battlefield preservation provides many assets to an area, including tourists and open green space. The county has a stake in both of these, even if national groups are not involved.
Preservation or re-creation
Preservation in Franklin has been a benchmark project that many other small communities in America look to as an example. Organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Downtown Franklin Association, and the Land Trust of Tennessee have made major inroads into preserving our community for future generations. Their past efforts are to be commended. However, there is a difference between preservation and re-creation. Mayor Miller, Vince Gill, Amy Grant (the latter two do not even live in this county anymore) and others need to remember that there is a price to pay for turning Franklin's heritage into a theme park for Civil War enthusiasts.
In 1999, local historians James A. Crutchfield and Robert Holladay wrote an invaluable book entitled Franklin, Tennessee's Handsomest Town, detailing our local history. In it, readers will find that Franklin residents and our nation's war department TWICE vetoed war park status (conferred on such battlefields as Antietam, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Stones River) and thus Franklinites elected to develop the Columbia Pike corridor. In the 139 years since the end of the war, Franklin's history has continued. Might not it be a better idea to interpret this land as is, making sure to let Civil War enthusiasts know that Franklin residents respected the loss of so many during the tragic battle but decided to go on with their lives in the same way as we do today? If, 100 years ago, the Daughters of the Confederacy were unable to enlist Franklinites and the War Department's assistance to create a battlefield from the unblemished land, who are we to say they were wrong, especially since most of the viewsheds and battlefield sites are now obliterated by development. In fact, one thing to interpret about this battle that is often not mentioned is the fact that much of the battle was fought in what was then and now considered an urban area around the Carter House. This is one of the more unique aspects of the Battle of Franklin.
Purchasing commercial property such as the Columbia Avenue Pizza Hut and the Country Club of Franklin to serve a minority aspect of our community is certainly not the best way to preserve our community. This land, since it has been so marred by development, is actually useless as a historic property. Let's focus on the history that we have preserved instead of trying to create something that does not exist the way that some in our community wish it did. It is much more important to promote and preserve the good projects that our community already has, such as the Carter House, Carnton Plantation, Main Street, and The Factory at Franklin.
James C. Gilliam
Giving past a perspective
Over and over again in the Franklin Tomorrow visioning effort, citizens cited Franklin's historic small-town feel as the reason they love this community. The Heritage Foundation, the Downtown Franklin Association, and a half-dozen other preservation organizations have fought many battles over the years to preserve this unique historic identity, and though they bear scars for their efforts, they've won more battles than they've lost. The result is the community we call home today.
''Your Voices'' poses the question ''Is Franklin's past its future?'' The answer is an overwhelming ''Yes.'' It's an over-simplification to say that Franklin's past is the only ingredient of its future, but it's certainly an essential part of who we are today and where we're going. Part of Franklin's past is the bloody battle Nov. 30, 1864, in many ways the last gasp of the Confederacy and thus a defining moment not only in the history of Franklin but also of the nation. Perhaps because the battle was so pointless, because nobody really won, or because so many people died, Franklin has never given the battlefield the attention it deserves. But after squandering many opportunities over the years to save a significant tract of battlefield from development, we finally have another chance, probably the last chance to acquire a large tract of undeveloped land for a battlefield park.
If we don't act now, the Carnton Country Club property will become just another faceless subdivision development, adding traffic, schoolchildren and infrastructure costs to a city and county already overburdened by the incredible double-digit growth of the last several years. There goes the neighborhood. But if the city accepts the challenge of private preservationists who are willing to raise half the cost of the land, we can create a battlefield park that will permanently interpret the Battle of Franklin and also be a lasting legacy of green space near downtown Franklin for generations to come.
Rudy and Peter Jordan
A strong draw
The Franklin 140th reenactment a weekend ago, jointly sponsored by the Civil War Courier and Save The Franklin Battlefield, clearly demonstrates the drawing power that heritage tourism can have for all of Middle Tennessee. There were reenactors and spectators from all over America, and a few from the UK, Denmark, Canada and Australia. They were here specifically to attend the 140th event.
We don't have the final attendance and financial numbers yet, but the crowds were huge all three days. And we know that the 3,000 students who attended the School Days Program was a big, big boost to Rippavilla. Also, Carnton Plantation and the Carter House said they did land-office business from Friday through Monday of that weekend — Carter House offered that those four days were their biggest EVER. These are the exact tourism results we had hoped to demonstrate with this reenactment. I haven't seen any feedback from Downtown Franklin on whether they noticed a positive business impact that weekend.
Let's all hope that the preservation initiatives now under way in Franklin and elsewhere continue on to successful conclusions. Nashville Metro Parks just opened Kelly's Point park on the Cumberland River last month and is supposed to re-open Fort Negley yet this year. Negley will be a BIG draw into the region. With a few more battlefield parks along U.S. 31 and a coordinated interpretive/promotion program from Nashville to Columbia, we think we can create a much broader tourism appeal here in Middle Tennessee.
Treasurer, Save The Franklin Battlefield
A step in the right direction
Franklin should move forward to create a battlefield park, both to preserve an important part of our history and to continue to improve the economic base of our community. As a walking tour guide with Franklin on Foot and also an employee of Historic Carnton Plantation, I see daily the ever-increasing numbers of visitors who are entranced by Franklin's beauty, charm and rich historical past. These tourists bring with them a huge economic impact, those all-important and cherished ''clean'' tourist dollars. Should Franklin convert commercial or residential property? Sure, as long as there's a willing seller. Franklin is definitely moving in the right direction in promoting tourism as a positive economic influence on our community.
A hope for the future
The recent 140th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Franklin was held in Maury County. The planners required at least 1,000 acres of land to hold the event. There were very few parcels of land in Williamson County to choose from. Those landowners owning the large parcels did not want the reenactment held on their land. The event was a tremendous success and hopefully brought in thousands of dollars to Save The Franklin Battlefield to help purchase battlefield land in Franklin.
I think a national park would be a wonderful addition to Franklin and Williamson County. They've had years and years to do that, and haven't, so it seems unlikely that the Park Service will come through. The city of Franklin has done much for preservation and if they could help create a battlefield park in Franklin. The people will come! Historic tourism is an asset to any community. I have many friends in the reenacting community that come to Franklin and wonder why more isn't done to preserve what battlefield land we have left. People who love history don't usually visit a place just once, either; they come again and again.
I think the city of Franklin should be commended for what they've done for historic tourism, but there is more to be done! And please — no more commercial business on battlefield land!
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Williamson County and Franklin Special District schools were on the receiving end last week of a $5.7 million federal grant to improve the health and safety of schools in the district. Are schools in Williamson County safe? Is violence or drugs a problem locally in schools? Are school resource officers needed in more than county high schools? What role should the community play in making our schools safer? Send your responses by noon Thursday to yourvoices@.... Please include your name, address and phone number for verification.