The two towers that are part of Franklin’s new eastside gateway are meant to show visitors and remind residents that the city is home to some unique places and speak to the values important to residents.

But if you look up at the towers, you might be left a little confused.

The problem is that the towers at King Street and Umbarger Lane aren’t illuminated the way city leaders expected, and on bright days, it is hard to make out the image on the four sides at the top of each tower. The Johnson County Courthouse is supposed to be brightly lit, but in some cases residents can’t see the feature at all and have wondered if it is a clock.

The medallions at the top are glass-etched with LED lighting on the edges, meant to backlight the features. When city leaders realized the medallions didn’t have the intended effect, they made a change so that the lighting is on 24 hours a day. But they still didn’t look quite right, especially during the day, city engineer Mark Richards said.

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“At night, it looks really nice,” he said.

After fixing an electrical issue, the city now wants to wait to see what needs to be done next.

“Our goal at this time is to sort of set back and see what kind of reaction we get from the public,” Richards said. “We encourage people to go out and take a look at the towers and see what they think and offer suggestions.”

Additional lighting could be added or other parts of the structure changed, but Barnett and Richards want to make sure that any additional changes are needed and are the final fix. Anyone with feedback is asked to contact city officials.

Residents should at times notice that the color of the lighting has changed, such as to green for St. Patrick’s Day. The four glass panels on each side of the towers depict a focus on community, education, agriculture and the city.

The goal in adding the features to the gateway project was to encourage people to stop and get out of their vehicles and take a look, Richards said.

“If you do that, it is impactful,” he said.

Taxpayers have already spent $860,000 on the structures, with $727,000 of that on the towers, and the money is coming from the tax-increment financing districts that collect property taxes from new development in specific areas and funnel the money into special projects. But the city might have to spend a little more to accomplish the brightly-lit background that they were promised.

For now, city leaders want to know what residents think about the towers, because they were built for them, Barnett said.

The towers are just part of the gateway project. City officials are still working through plans for a hotel, restaurants and other businesses that would make the State Road 44 exit off of Interstate 65 an attractive draw for motorists. Trails have been built, and another feature promotes key nonprofit organizations working in the city. Another structure has the city name.

“There must be something interesting in town,” Barnett said of the goal of the goal of the project in enticing visitors to come further into the city.

At a glance

What do you think?

City leaders want your feedback on the towers that are part of the eastside gateway project at King Street and Umbarger Lane in Franklin.

Here’s how to offer your feedback

By email, to Mayor Steve Barnett or city engineer Mark Richards, at or

By phone, to city hall at 317-736-3602.

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Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2774.