Hayden: A jewel-in-waiting

Published 12:34 pm Saturday, May 23, 2009

Franklin is truly blessed. Despite being ravaged by several floods of record over the last decade, the city has several new jewels to show off, among them a restored train depot and visitors’ center, Atkinson Park, and a new farmers’ market.

Now it is time for the community to turn its attention to another jewel-in-waiting: the former Hayden school building.

We enthusiastically support the efforts of two nonprofit organizations, Senior Services and the Hayden Group, to renovate the building and turn it into a multi-purpose facility. If the project is successfully completed, Hayden will be an asset to the entire community.

Where now there is a dangerous eyesore with almost every visible window broken, these nonprofits see a hopeful vision for the future.

Unfortunately, there are already some naysayers to the project.

Some object to what they perceive as the introduction of “new” low-income housing. Keep in mind that the Franklin Redevlopment and Housing Authority has several vouchers for low-income housing “on the shelf” since the dismantling of Suburban Gardens. FRHA is not creating “new” vouchers.

Releasing 25 of these vouchers for seniors to live at Hayden is an appropriate use.

Others are afraid that if Hayden is developed, the ballfields behind the school that are currently being used by the Department of Parks & Recreation will be lost. Relax. The ballfields are on a different parcel — one that is owned by the city school division — and will not be affected by the proposal to renovate Hayden.

Next month, Hayden will have sat vacant for 23 years. Let’s embrace this plan and make sure that another year isn’t added to the total.