Forum to discuss city’s future

Published 11:39 am Saturday, February 4, 2012

FRANKLIN—Eugene Ford would like to see new industry and more jobs in Franklin.

“In this area I want to see more opportunity for job advancement,” the Franklin man said. “It’d be something good for the community.”

Ford, who plans to attend one of the two public forums that will focus on shaping the city’s future, also favors an expansion of the city Parks & Recreation Department with more activities for youth, including additional sports leagues.

“You need to create an environment where they want to be,” Ford said. “There needs to be something that can pique their interests.”

Meetings for updating the city’s Comprehensive Plan will be held Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the Franklin Business Incubator and Monday, Feb. 27, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. Both are 6 to 8 p.m.

The input the city receives will help outline future budget items, said City Manager June Fleming.

“It pretty much lays out the vision of the city,” Fleming said. “It explains what the city will be like in the future and where the emphasis will be when comparing schools, parks and recreation and housing.”

Fleming said it’s one of the two most important documents in city government and one where citizens should take a role in determining what kind of city they want.

John Smolak, president and chief executive officer of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., said his agency would work to diversify the economy with different types of industry.

Smolak said the Comprehensive Plan is one of the biggest factors in determining the future of economic development because it maps out how the city’s resources are used in the future.

“I certainly would like to see what comes out of the Comprehensive Plan process,” he said.

Franklin Community Development Coordinator Donald Goodwin said the Comprehensive Plan also includes demographics, housing, environmental characteristics, transportation, utilities, community facilities and urban design.

“It’s an overview of the city, and where we’re going,” Goodwin said. “We’re looking at it as an opportunity for rebirth.”

Goodwin expects economics, transportation, housing and community facilities to garner the most public interest. He also expects a lot of focus on updating of the future land-use map, which would impact decisions on zoning.

Goodwin said the plan also would look at the city’s neighborhoods and choose areas for residential growth. The issue of the number of rental properties would also be addressed.

The transportation section will focus on future needs. Goodwin noted that North High Street may need to be widened if there is residential growth.

Community development staff and regional planning experts will attend the forums to answer questions.