City of Franklin, FSSD Could Partner to Expand Parks System

Nestled behind three of its campuses, the Franklin Special School District has acres of unused land.

With the confines of Franklin’s open space regularly shrinking, both the City of Franklin and FSSD could see a partnership in its future with the more than 50 acres available to use.

The board discussed Monday the potential for creating a concept plan with the City of Franklin, which would pay $34,998 for the consulting work with Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon. Elected officials will review the professional services agreement Tuesday night at the Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting.

Franklin Parks Director Lisa Clayton said she could see the benefit to the partnership given the proximity of the FSSD’s campuses to Jim Warren Park. It would also aid with capacity, which Jim Warren currently sits full. The district also uses the parks already for athletics.

“The Franklin Special School District utilizes it, through field trips, fun runs and athletics,” Clayton said. “Jim Warren is home 16 schools. It’s at capacity and need for expansion. We’ve worked to fine a scope of work for review and consideration.”

Clayton said she and FSSD Superintendent David Snowden started having the discussions when the city revamped its Master Parks Plan. The plan is more than 200-pages, which details what the city needs to assess in order to accommodate the estimated almost 90,000 people who could live in Franklin by 2024.

BWSC senior urban planner Mary Vavra said her team – if awarded the contract  – would conduct a site analysis and gather info about what’s existent and meet with a core planning team. They would also gather feedback from stakeholder groups to see what the community would like to see out of the partnership. It could include a myriad of options, ranging from tennis courts to ballfields for football and baseball. 

“It will be a framework to move froward,” Vavra said. “We are seeing a lot of support for joint agreements across the state. There’s about 50 agreements with schools and parks. It’s an economical way to expand park systems. We are excited about being a apart of this process.”

If the City of Franklin chooses to move forward with the agreement, the two will discuss how to implement the concept plan. Discussions for paying for the expansions to the park system will also come later.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will review the professionals services agreement to start the concept plan at its 5 p.m. work session.

Emily West covers Franklin, education, and the state legislature for the Franklin Home Page. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.