Group asks city for $60K needs assessment

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

FRANKLIN—A group tasked with helping to revitalize city neighborhoods says it can’t move forward without data to guide its work.

City Planner Amanda Jarratt told City Council members Monday night that the Redevelopment and Revitalization Commission wants to suspend its activities until a “needs assessment,” conducted by an outside consultant at an estimated cost of $60,000, is done.

The City Council took no action on the request. Mayor Jim Councill suggested the matter be added to the agenda for the council’s annual retreat.

The Redevelopment and Revitalization Commission convened earlier this year but was born out of a 2005 update of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. In 2007, the City Council put the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority in charge of developing a master redevelopment plan, and the Redevelopment and Revitalization Commission was created as an advisory committee to the Housing Authority and Planning Commission.

The new commission was charged with developing a “clear plan and guide for where revitalization and redevelopment efforts need to occur,” city officials said at a June public forum.

But Jarratt said commission members, after a handful of meetings, don’t believe they have enough information to create a plan.

Jarratt said the city’s last needs assessment was conducted in 1980 and is outdated. A new one would “provide an extensive study of physical, social and economic conditions of every neighborhood.”

Commission member Lawyer Artis, who also is vice chairman of the Planning Commission, disputed the need to suspend the group’s work or to spend lots of money on a needs assessment.

“The commission was in agreement to have (Jarratt and Housing Authority Executive Director Sheryl Frazier) come before the council and ask for money but not necessarily to suspend the commission,” he said. “We received a letter saying it would be suspended. I don’t want to see the commission suspended completely. I think we have the expertise within the city to actually get this done.”

At the June forum on South Street, city officials said the commission would:

■ Identify areas citywide that may need revitalization and investment.

■ Identify areas with aging water and sewer infrastructure.

■ Identify areas with aging road infrastructure.

■ Identify areas needing assistance with housing rehabilitation.

■ Prepare a plan to prioritize and revive these areas.

■ Establish ways to allow the city to remain healthy and continue to prosper.

The plan would be reviewed and adopted by the Planning Commission and City Council as a part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.