As Academy Park buildings near completion, old J.L. Clay Center will be surplus


As Academy Park buildings near completion, old J.L. Clay Center will be surplus

Slated for an opening sometime in January or February, Academy Park in Franklin will bring an unprecedented piece to the Williamson County Parks and Recreation repertoire.

The $9 million park at 112 Everbright Avenue off Columbia Avenue will house a Performing Arts Center and a Senior Enrichment Center, both novel to the county parks system.

According to Parks and Rec director Gordon Hampton, the buildings at Academy Park are ahead of schedule.

“Right now we are looking at a potential mid-January completion date,” he said. “Though it is totally up to the contractor at this point.”

The Enrichment Center will be the new home of the J.L. Clay Senior Center, which will move from its current location at 420 Bridge Street in Franklin.

“We are looking forward to it,” Susan Ille, director of operations for J.L. Clay Senior Center, said. “We are partnering with Parks and Rec.”

The Bridge Street property, which the county owns, will eventually be sold as surplus.

“We were planning from day one that we will sell that location,” Mayor Rogers Anderson said. “The way we will have to sell it will be surplus, just like we do with any other property we have that we sell.”

Once J.L. Clay moves fully into its new home – likely by late spring or early summer – the property will need to go through Williamson County Commission approval, like any surplus sale.

The county bought the property more than thirty years ago in December of 1983 for $35,o00. Because it is government owned, it is exempt from appraisal and therefore its exact value is not known. However, the properties on either side of it are in the million-dollar range.

The location at 414 Bridge Street, adjacent to the east and zoned commercial, has a total market value of $1.02 million. Close by at 202 5th Avenue North, zoned commercial and adjacent to the west, has a total market value of $967,800.

While the property will be auctioned off as surplus, Anderson said he will certainly set a minimum bid amount commensurate with its value.

Whatever it fetches, where the money ends up has never been in question.

“The thinking all along – several years ago- – was that the money we receive will go towards the new facility in some way,” Anderson said.

The Enrichment Center, going up where Battle Ground Academy’s Fleming Hall once stood, will provide senior and therapeutic recreation programs, fitness and dance classes, community potlucks, special events and more. The state-of-the-art center is being built on the site of the original Battle Ground Academy campus.  Thus, the rich history of the county has been preserved, while the ever-changing needs of a growing community are still being met.

In addition to the Enrichment Center, Parks and Rec also is renovating the old Cloverdale Hall building as a center for the arts.

The renovation- and rejuvenation- will bring the now-empty 116-year-old building back to life as a theater, performing arts venue and art gallery.

The Performing Arts Center is also the future home of Williamson County Parks and Recreation’s Star Bright Players Children’s Theatre. As such, it will house a 300-seat state-of-the-art theater space for dramatic productions, musical performances, camps and workshops.

Both buildings will be available for rental to the public for meetings, events and theatrical productions. Williamson County Parks and Recreation will manage the two new centers, expected to open in late spring 2017.

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