‘Foundation for continued responsible growth’

This year in Franklin can be summed up with two words familiar to residents: Under construction.

Whether roads, sidewalks, trails or new businesses, Franklin is going to keep building them all, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said in his annual state of the city address.

The city will launch the first phase of a $20 million project to rebuild Jefferson and King streets, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Franklin’s history. But that’s not until August, after the city wraps up the last piece of construction on North Main Street, approves a stormwater plan focused on fixing issues in creeks and streams and solving drainage problems, plotting future growth around Interstate 65 and continuing to design more than 4 miles of new trails.

All of that is coming after the city worked on North Main Street and built its first roundabout, made major road and sidewalk upgrades to downtown streets, announced six major industrial projects bringing 200-plus jobs and continued to have new shops opening up downtown.

The only thing not getting an overhaul in Franklin is your tax bill, McGuinness said. The city finished 2014 with about $650,000 in unspent tax dollars and is paying for millions in road improvements with federal grants and funding from the city’s tax-increment financing (TIF) districts.

“We’ve laid the foundation for continued responsible growth and prosperity,” McGuinness said.

Construction continues to be a top focus for Franklin, with the city launching the first phase of a four-year project to rebuild Jefferson and King streets this year. In August, construction will start on the first section, west of U.S. 31 to City View Farm Apartments.

The state turned over ownership of State Road 44 to Franklin, which allows the city to rebuild the road and sidewalks. The project will include streetscape work, including decorative lighting, benches and landscaping, similar to what’s been done on North Main Street and East and West Court streets.

The total price tag will be around $20 million, but most of the cost is being paid for with state and federal grants, McGuinness said. The Indiana Department of Transportation is giving Franklin $12.8 million for the project, and the city has received additional grants for sidewalks and trails. Whatever isn’t covered by the grants, such as design work and land purchases, is being paid for out of the city’s TIF funds, which are taxes paid by businesses and set aside for infrastructure and economic development projects, McGuinness said.

“That we have secured enough INDOT and federal highway money to build our gateway brings a smile to my face,” McGuinness said. “Construction inconveniences are the only impacts to Franklin residents, not your tax bill.”

Before then, workers will finish the last leg of North Main Street from the post office to U.S. 31. The city will review and adopt a stormwater master plan that will help address flooding concerns and drainage problems in the city in March. And the city will create recommendations for the kind of developments wanted around the I-65 exit.

Businesses grew, relocated and opened in Franklin last year, McGuinness said. Six industrial projects, including a $26 million expansion at Interstate Warehousing, will mean 230 new jobs in the city. Downtown, multiple new restaurants including a brewpub, pizzeria and tap room, diner, and tea house and bakery all are scheduled to open this year, he said.

And Google is coming to town this year, too. The company selected Franklin as a stop on an international education summit tour. The city helped Franklin Community School Corp. purchase Google Chromebook laptops for every high school student, allowing them to use technology more often in the classroom and collaborate with other students on projects.

New development in Franklin also is helping boost growth in all of Johnson County. National surveys and articles, such as one recently done by CNN, point to the county as one of the best places to live in the U.S.

“I am extremely excited from where we have been and how we plan to continue our journey in 2015. The days of Franklin and Johnson County being overlooked in central Indiana are over,” McGuinness said.

Franklin highlights

Here’s a look at some of the successes and upcoming projects Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness touched on during Tuesday’s state of the city speech:

Successes of 2014

Six industrial projects were announced, leading to at least 230 new jobs in the city.

Road repairs and maintenance on dozens of city streets, new sidewalks and road surface on Water and Monroe streets and two-thirds of the North Main Street rebuild were done.

Franklin finished 2014 with a surplus of about $650,000 in tax dollars, which went into savings.

What’s coming up in 2015

Final section of construction on North Main Street, from the post office to U.S. 31

First phase of construction on Jefferson Street, west of U.S. 31 to approximately City View Farms apartment complex

City will host a Google education summit.

Also heard at the address

Here are other statements made by Mayor Joe McGuinness at his state of the city address:

“You’ll continue to see such things as new sidewalks, enhanced streetlights and bicycle racks.” — about upcoming improvements on Jefferson Street

“We have 9.5 miles of trails and are designing an additional 4.5 miles thanks to the Federal Highway Administration.” — on the city’s success in getting grant money

“We have garnered the attention of Google. Franklin, Indiana, is now in the same category as cities such as Los Angeles and New York City. Do I need to repeat that? We are in the same category as LA and New York City.” — on the Google education summit

“We are competing with the world and must band together to fight for the region.” — on supporting development in all Johnson County communities