As a new year and a new decade arrive, the Franklin Home Page reached out to various community leaders to get their outlook on 2020. Most responded by email, while a few had given their visions through a recent Franklin Tomorrow FrankTalks lecture.
Ken Moore, Mayor of Franklin
(From his presentation at the Dec. 9 FrankTalks)
We continue to believe that by 2040, this area is going to continue to grow and add significant numbers of people and jobs. Those are solid predictions based on the University of Tennessee and other groups that study that type thing. I hear a lot of comments about growth in our city, and we are growing rapidly. The whole region is growing rapidly, but we happen to be one of the leaders.
We’ve been planning for a long time how to take care of the growth that’s affecting our city, and we’ve invested significant money in the last five years on infrastructure and it will also be a significant number in the next five years.
[As far as transportation priorities], I think it has to be something that moves people in the Cool Springs area better. I look forward to the Franklin Transit Authority bringing something that’s going to change Cool Springs and the ability to get around there.
Gov. [Bill] Lee recognizes that this region is the economic generator for the state and he is on board to find some solutions.
We’re looking and studying where we can put a park and ride. I think we have a couple of great options we can look at and that’s going to help us moving forward as far as other transportation solutions.
There is an important census occurring in 2020. Why should I care about the census? It means revenue for the city, $120 or so for every person we’re able to count. So it’s extremely important to make sure everybody participates in the census.
Eric Stuckey, Franklin city administrator
(From his presentation at the Dec. 9 FrankTalks)
In the last five years we’ve invested around $170 million in infrastructure. That amount is going to double in the next five years when you look at the magnitude of what’s going on. It’s a significant investment.
At the end of the day, we’re in the quality of life business. That’s what brings people here, and it’s important having good plans and looking at and understanding what needs to happen to preserve it and build on it. [It’s taking] the best of what growth and new investment bring and help it to enhance quality of life. … As I look forward, that’s what it’s all about.
We already have a joint meeting planned in January with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and county commissioners to talk about some things, especially as it relates to land use. There is actually a lot of compatibility in the way we are both dealing with land use. We just have to be sure we’re following those guidelines so the right growth, the right development, happens in the right places.
The collaboration piece is really what’s special about Williamson County. People get it.
Jason Golden, Williamson County Schools superintendent
WCS is already off to a great start to the 2019-20 school year, so I expect we will continue in that direction. We know that as the Williamson County community grows, WCS will continue to do the same. The Creekside Elementary building will open shortly after the start of 2020, and we will open a new middle school off of Henpeck Lane in the fall of 2020. Our administrators will be working to hire the best teachers and support staff for their schools, and our department heads will be doing the same in their respective areas. Instructionally, you’ve heard of our successes. For the coming year, we’re maintaining our strategic focus on instruction. We’re also adding a joint effort with Columbia State in cyber security, teaching our students advanced computer skills in this area.
Franklin Special School District
The 2020 year will mark the kickoff of several special projects that the Franklin Special School District is excited to see come to life. The FSSD Board of Education has been planning for several years to make renovations to Liberty Elementary School. The 34-year-old school will receive renovations that will not only improve energy efficiency with a new HVAC system, but will also receive appropriate updates to wiring and building aesthetics. Liberty Elementary serves 500 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 4th grade. The bids for the improvements are expected to go out in February or early March. The expected date of completion has not yet been established, but significant progress is expected over the summer of 2020.
Another project that the FSSD is excited to get underway in 2020 will be the addition of a second gym to the Poplar Grove campus. Currently one gym is being shared by Poplar Grove Elementary and Poplar Grove Middle. Sharing of gymnasium space between the schools has caused many scheduling conflicts, with the elementary physical education departments using a multi-purpose room for its classes, special events, programs and assemblies. Also, the current gym is heavily used by athletic teams and upper school drama practices, which makes finding open gym time very difficult for Poplar Grove Elementary. The new gym will include 470 bleacher seats in a mezzanine setting overlooking the gym floor, high windows to provide natural light, and new locker rooms for both home and away teams. While the new gym will primarily serve the elementary school, the locker rooms will connect with the current gym, so that the middle school athletic teams will be able to use them.
“I am thrilled to see this project come to fruition,” said Poplar Grove Elementary Principal Alisha Erickson, Ed.D. “It has been an identified need for Poplar Grove since we opened in 2000. This will offer a much needed space for our physical education teachers to design lessons that maximize participation while keeping children a safe distance from one another during activities.”
Concurrent with the gymnasium project, construction of the FSSD Performing Arts Center (PAC) will also begin in 2020. This project has long been on the wish list of Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden, who envisioned a large, high quality performing arts center that any FSSD school could use for performances.
“Our Franklin community and the FSSD community are strong supporters of the arts and this new Performing Arts Center will offer a state-of-the-art facility for our students to showcase their talents,” Snowden said, adding that he expects the venue to be used for community performances as well. “I can’t say enough about the strong support of the Board of Education for all the construction projects. They know how much these projects will enhance the educational environment for students.”
The new PAC will be built at the north end of the Poplar Grove Middle School and will include a 480-seat auditorium with a multipurpose stage, performance support spaces, including a pre-performance space, changing rooms, and a prop shop. In addition, the PAC will be home to an FSSD Legacy Gallery where the district’s long history will be celebrated. Bids are expected to go out for both the gym and the PAC in late spring.
Another large-scale project on the horizon for 2020 includes the beginning of the construction partnership between the FSSD and the city of Franklin for a ballfield complex with two playing fields behind Freedom Middle School. This city/school partnership includes constructing two regulation size fields (baseball and softball) for school and tournament play, creating a concessions area and restrooms, adding lighting for evening practice or play, and creating safe walkways to parking. Nashville-based Lose Design has created the design plan. They have in their design portfolio the Riverfront Landing area across from Nissan Stadium and the Middle Tennessee State University women's softball complex. The ballfield project is part of a multi-phase plan that would bring recreation and athletic field upgrades to the Freedom Middle/Poplar Grove campus, as well as Freedom Intermediate School and Johnson Elementary.
The construction cost for the baseball/softball complex will be split between the two entities. FSSD schools will have priority use of the complex. The project is expected to be bid in spring 2020 with most of the construction happening in 2020.
Alma McLemore, African American Heritage Society president
2020, wow! How time has passed. Remember the anticipated Y2K problems. Can’t believe it’s been 20 years. I feel blessed that God has given me almost 20 years since that time and am hoping and praying for many more.
On a personal note for 2020, #Godfirstin2020. I am thanking God and am praying for good health and prosperity for myself and my family, spending valuable time with family and friends, continued relationships with positive and caring people and developing better health habits. I’m also praying for the world to be a better place for everyone, that we will continue to show love and compassion for one another and that our United States of America will truly be united as one nation.
Twenty years ago, it was projected that Williamson County’s population would be around 200,000. I think we have gone past that number with an estimated population of over 225,000, according to United States Census Data. Our 10-year census is coming up in 2020. Hoping that everyone can be counted. It’s important for us all!
Franklin and Williamson County will continue to grow in 2020 due to the great quality of life people enjoy here. However, affordable and workforce housing is a scarcity here and we must find more solutions to diversity in housing, so I’m hoping and praying that in 2020 we will have opportunities for more diversity in housing and that we see results.
As resident of the African American Heritage Society, our goals for 2020 is to continue to fulfill our mission and educate the community on the importance of telling the Fuller Story and working with other preservation organizations and individuals as we research, interpret and share important Williamson County history with the community.
Many great things are happening here and we have so many nonprofits as well as private businesses and individuals who are truly making a difference in our community. Praying that we climb even higher in the caring category — that list is one we’d be mighty proud to top.
Debbie Henry, TMA Group executive director
As we look ahead to 2020, The TMA Group and Franklin Transit Authority are focused on moving mobility options forward for our community, county and region. Technology and partnerships will be paramount for us.
Our plan is the expansion of the technological tools and programs we implemented this year. These tools will improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of our variety of transportation services.
Working with traditional and non-traditional partners, The TMA Group and Franklin Transit Authority are creating solutions that combine technology and innovation.
In 2020, enriching our customers’ experience continues to be of paramount importance. Therefore, technological innovations should always connect by implementing people-focused initiatives that increase awareness about the benefits of our transportation programs.