Council OKs restrooms at Barrett’s Landing

Published 8:45 am Friday, November 27, 2009

FRANKLIN—Portable toilets will soon be a thing of the past at Barrett’s Landing.

The Downtown Franklin Association’s plans to build restrooms and storage space at Barrett’s Landing is moving forward thanks to City Council action Monday night.

The council voted to authorize City Attorney Taylor Williams to negotiate a lease agreement between the city and the DFA for the parcel of land that the building will be constructed on. The council also agreed to waive $8,000 worth of water and sewer tap fees for the building.

The last time the plan appeared before the council, concerns about the DFA’s ability to finance the project were raised; however Dan Howe, manager of the DFA, said that shouldn’t be a concern—even in a worst case scenario, if all city funding were cut from the DFA.

He said the annual We Be Jammin’ concert series put on by the DFA brings in close to $12,000 a year.

“That one event, run by volunteers, all by itself could pay for this project,” he said. He also noted that the group has a contingency fund and dedicated volunteers.

“You’ve got a group of people who put their time, their dedication, their enthusiasm, their support to give the community an almost free event and something to do and that’s a commitment,” Howe said. “We’ve still got people committed to the DFA.”

Howe also told the council that Franklin-Southampton Charities has awarded the group a $25,000 grant, specifically for the construction of the restroom facility.

“We’re very excited, and we’re glad to see some additional support for the project,” he said. The funds will be made available in mid-December.

The DFA’s lease with the city would be 15 years, which mirrors the time period of the DFA’s loan, according to proposed lease terms Williams presented Monday night. The DFA would also be responsible for rent payments of $1 per year, utilities and maintenance and upkeep of the building.

Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson voiced concern over the DFA’s request of $23,000 worth of in-kind services from the city. She said the city stopped providing in-kind police services for the DFA “to be more efficient with our budget,” and she questioned providing other in-kind services.

Howe said that he tried to target fees that “aren’t actually in the city budget” for in-kind services. However, City Manager June Fleming said that all fees are included in the city budget.

“Indirectly, we do count on every fee that we collect,” she said. “So from a budgetary standpoint, theoretically it is in the budget.” Waiving the fees wouldn’t unbalance the city budget, she said, but she also noted that the city is already short on revenue.

The total cost for the project is expected to be just over $100,000. The DFA hopes to begin construction as soon as possible.

“Our ultimate goal is to have (the building) open before We Be Jammin’ kicks off in May,” Howe said.