A time for healing

Published 8:34 am Friday, March 4, 2011

Few issues have divided this community as much as the failed push for Navy pilot training at Franklin Municipal Airport.

Many proponents believed it their patriotic obligation to support the U.S. military. Opponents feared a loss of home values and deterioration of their quality of life. Many citizens were in the middle, torn by conflicting, powerful emotions.

The Franklin City Council spoke strongly on Feb. 14 with a 5-2 vote to end the city’s pursuit of the Navy partnership. The Navy accepted the decision with grace and announced its intention to pursue other airfields in the region for the training of turboprop pilots.

For reasons only he can explain, the project’s chief supporter, Mayor Jim Councill, declined to accept the will of the council majority. With no evidence or hint of a potential change of heart by his colleagues, Councill put the divisive issue on the council’s Feb. 28 agenda for reconsideration. The result was a second consecutive marathon council meeting of bitter rhetoric, questionable parliamentary procedure, raw emotions and general acrimony that rubbed salt in a still-open wound.

Right or wrong, a solid majority of the council, after months of debate and deliberation, determined that the Navy project was bad for Franklin. They’ve now said so again. Democracy — albeit messily — worked. Council members, on this issue and others, will be accountable at the next election.

Healing will be slow and difficult, but it’s time for that process to begin.