Franklin, let’s clean up our act

Published 10:52 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

Take a quick drive around the city and a couple of things become readily apparent; some people are working very hard to maintain and spruce up their property, and some are doing absolutely nothing at all. Downtown Franklin is a perfect example of this tale of two cities. On the one hand, DFA has gone to great lengths to have several fun and interesting murals painted on some of the district’s most visible buildings, and several property owners are expending significant effort and expense to renovate and revitalize old structures long in need of some TLC into attractive, usable spaces. Yet at the same time, adjacent buildings sit untouched and in disrepair.

Residential areas of the city are in a similar condition. A ride up Second Avenue from downtown toward Armory Drive leads one past a dilapidated quad-plex on the right and straight into view of the once magnificent, but now collapsing Pace House. What was once a jewel in the city’s crown is now a mere shell — and a crumbling one at that — of its former self. From one end of High Street to another, majestic old homes either sit abandoned, left to decay to a point beyond repair, or in yards whose grass and shrubs are rarely, if ever, tended to.

A tight city budget leaves city officials little wiggle room when it comes to dealing with such issues, and out-of-town property owners with little vested interest in the appearance or morale of the community have no incentive to do better. But we as a community have to figure out a way to resolve this problem.

A discussion about the appearance of our community may seem superficial, but it is one that is indeed important. Potential investors must pass through gateways into the city that are uninviting to say the least, and at worst give the impression that we just don’t care.  At a time when we need to be putting our best foot forward, what others see is the dirt under our toenails.

What we seek is not a place to lay blame, because there is plenty to go around. Instead, we prefer a meaningful dialogue that leads to significant reforms in city policy that address the issue of blight. It is an issue city council should quickly take up, and one that all concerned should agree is one of Franklin’s top priorities.