By MICHAEL ACKLEY
In a yeares time, Monty McInturff, president of Friends of Franklin Parks, wants the residents of Franklin to be celebrating in a brand new arena in Harlinsdale Park, watching as horses trot by.
By this time next year, Monty McInturff wants Middle Tennessee residents to be celebrating in a brand new arena in Harlinsdale Park by watching horses trot past.
eHarlinsdale Farm is the birthplace of the Tennessee Walking Horse and horses have been an incredible part of Franklines history since it was founded in 1799,e said McInturff, , president of Friends of Franklin Parks.
eIt has been a dream of our organization to bring the horses back to this park.e
The City of Franklin granted approval to Friends of Franklin Parks to develop five acres of the 200-acre park at last weekes Municipal Planning Commission. McInturff says the arena will be used for the horse purposes, as well as for community events, concerts and parties.
eWouldnet it be amazing to have a V.I.P. seating in the arena for the fireworks show on July 4th? Iem just dreaming out loud. There will be all kinds of uses for this space.e
Friends of Franklin Parks thus far has raised $412,500 out of its $625,000 intended goal to complete the project. The groupes main fundraising event Raise the Roof will take place at Harlinsdale on Sept. 19. At such past events in the past, the group has raised about $50,000 for each, McInturff said.e
The difference between this event and past events is there will be a groundbreaking ceremony during the program to begin the construction to build the arena.
eThis is becoming a reality. We want people and corporate sponsorships to come out see that this isnet just a dream. This is going to actually happen. The park is going to be a beautiful place for the community to get together. ee
Friends of Franklin Parks was born of a Franklin Tomorrow project in 2011, which is a non-profit that enables prominent area locals to start projects to improve the sense of community within the city.e
The groupes first project was to give the old barn in Harlinsdale Park a new roof and that provided the annual fundraising eventes title. The group has proved to be successful it has raised more than $400,000 in grants and donations over the past three years.
eWe started the group because we realized that our parks were only being utilized by about 50 percent,e McInturff said. eThey are underused and under-developed. We see the parks as places where residents should be coming together. This project in Harlinsdale is our first step in making that a reality. The arena was part of a 45-year plan that the city had for the park. I may not be around in 45 years I want it to happen now.e
Even though the City still must issue building permits for work on the arena, McInturff already is thinking of a bigger, more expansive plan for the Cityes parke system.
eOur big dream is to make all of the parks continuous. Can you imagine riding your bicycle on path around the entirety of our parks? Weere a non-profit. We can raise the money to buy the land and donate it to our city. Wouldnet that be amazing?e
McInturff is adamant the Friends of Franklin Parks is enot an exclusive group. We want everyonees participation, help, ideas and donations. We hope everyone will come out on Sept. 13 and join us.e
For more information on Friends of Franklin Parks, click here. Admission to the Raise the Roof event is $75 per person.ee