Members of the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday night to approve a couple of key agenda items that will have an impact on the downtown district.
One was on a resolution to support the plan to install a statue of the late Jimmy Gentry on a bench along the wall adjacent to Franklin’s Historic Presbyterian Church, a site where Gentry and many other Williamson County residents waited on the bus that would take them to military service during World War II.
Aldermen also voted on an ordinance to amend a section of the city’s municipal code regarding special events and temporary street closures to address public gathering and expression events.
Both items received unanimous approval.
Fundraising and plans for the statue of Gentry, a decorated war veteran and teacher, coach and mentor to many in Williamson County, are already underway. It is being commissioned and created by Clarksville artist Scott Wise at a cost of approximately $85,000. Gentry died in April at 96 years old.
There was a little pushback at Tuesday’s meeting from Aldermen at Large Clyde Barnhill and Ann Petersen, who asked if such a statue placed along city property would take away a focus on all those soldiers who fought in wars and never came home.
“I don’t question the intent or the statue itself,” Barnhill said. “I just question the location. … I think we’re setting a very difficult precedent if we allow that statue of one person to be placed downtown. I personally think it should probably be on private party.”
Both aldermen joined with others in voting to approve the concept for the statue, however.
“He’s a representation of all those people that went to war and all those people that didn’t come back,” Ward 1 Alderman Beverly Burger said. “I think the plaque should say that. He sits there as a representation. It brings honor.”
Also Tuesday night, aldermen gave the nod on the first of two readings to an ordinance that will amend the section that’s specifically related to the public gatherings and public expression permit component.
It was a couple of years ago when BOMA voted to require permits for public gatherings or public expression. Since that time, according to City Administrator Eric Stuckey, the city has granted permits for 27 of 28 that were requested.
“It has worked generally very well,” Stuckey said in explaining the amendment. “There are a couple of things that were highlighted through this from our experience over the past two years that we have recommended as an amendment.”
For one, demonstrations in the downtown area will not be permitted on Friday and Saturday evenings “because of the nature of activity in the evening on those two days,” Stuckey said. It also excludes after-dark demonstrations citywide and requiring a permit if there is amplification at a gathering or protest.
Visit the city of Franklin Facebook page to view Tuesday night’s meeting.