Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said the city made progress toward many goals, and will continue that momentum in the upcoming year.
Franklin started projects and scheduled new capital improvements. It also raised the tax rate and introduced a new spending plan dubbed Invest Franklin. The city is in the process of revamping Hillsboro Road along with the engineering for the Columbia Avenue widening. Work also is under way for renovations at the Franklin Water Treatment Plant.
The Planning Department also saw a new director come on board, Emily Hunter. Also in planning, the Board of Mayor and Alderman will consider a new land use plan called Envision Franklin, which will move forward in 2017. Franklin residents will also vote for aldermen in the Ward One, Two, Three, and Four seats.
Looking back at this year, what do you see as accomplishments for the City of Franklin?
“The year 2016 has been a great year. A lot of has happened and the community has experienced amazing growth, and it’s a huge compliment to the quality of life and people. The kind of jobs being added are outstanding. You see the development side of new and existing companies expanding. I look at what we’ve done as city of major projects of Hillsboro Road and water plant upgrades continuing. These are all things hugely important.
“I also want to highlight the opening Westhaven (Fire) Station 8, and that’s a huge addition from a public safety standpoint. The consolidation of emergency communication and dispatch will also prove helpful. I think long-term that will pay huge dividends, and we – as a whole county – will keep growing, and now we have a more unified structure that makes a critical link to our public safety efforts. It’s just another feather in our cap of accreditation and the indicator of high level of service.”
What have you witnessed as a challenge for the City of Franklin?
“There are good challenges. We are working through the challenges growth presents, sorting through that and doing the right things whether it’s around the transportation network or infrastructure. All of those elements have been important and on going. They are kind of things that shape Franklin. It’s challenging because we are in a dynamic environment but it’s the kind of work that sets us as apart.
“We will continue focus on delivering the projects the board has identified, and getting those ready whether construction or bidding. Things like the new fire station in the southeast will be one of those efforts.
“But also, I think, it’s continuing to manage the impact of growth and doing so it preserves the quality of life, making Franklin special. It’s the same challenge – how do you take advantage but maintain the character of Franklin? That’s the ongoing overarching issue all of us face as a community.”
The Legislature is about to reconvene come January. What are you hoping those elected officials pay attention to from a city standpoint?
“We don’t have the specific plan, but the governor and our own John Schroer will propose some sort of sustainable (transportation) funding initiative and that will be important.
“It’s easy to say the state is in a surplus position, but the nature of transit projects are so long term with cost and impact. You can’t do year to year of surplus when you have to do a long-term plan like we do on the city level, that helps us move forward on key projects – like the Mack Hatcher extension improvements or those on Columbia. Avenue. Those types of projects are all over the county and Middle Tennessee that can make a difference. Without moving the needle on funding, we will find us falling further and further behind.
“I know there’s been a lot of conversations. But transportation is numbers 1, 2 and 3 on our priority list. It’s so important in managing the growth impact. So many of our roads are state roads. When we did Invest Franklin, we said this is part of the puzzle. Let’s do what we can locally. The federal government continues to look at funding and President-Elect Trump has talked about infrastructure as well. I hope we can see real action.”
This time next year, what do you hope to have crossed off of your to-do list for the city?
“I want to see us have brought the upgraded treatment plant online. I want to see the Hillsboro Road phase II project complete. I would love to see us continue to make great progress on capital projects. To me, it’s continuing to build where we’ve been going. That means some of those major projects will need to be completed and others starting on our pipeline.”
Emily West covers Franklin, education, and the state legislature for the Franklin Home Page. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.