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Editorial: Garden perfect addition to downtown Franklin

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Public gardens add to a community’s overall appeal and offer a quiet haven for residents.

Franklin has numerous public parks and several pockets of horticultural aesthetics, such as the pocket park at Main and Graham streets. Now a larger area is being planned that will develop an area adjoining Province Park into a more formal garden space.

The garden is being built on South Main Street south of Richard’s Brick Oven Pizza and includes a new public parking lot, wrought iron gate, labyrinth, Zen garden and art. Meg Jones and her husband, Richard Goss, who own the land and the restaurant next door, will spend about $200,000 in total to build it.

The Franklin Development Corp., an organization that was created and funded by the city with tax dollars, is giving the couple $90,000 to help pay for the garden. Board members also are helping keep the project on schedule by removing a requirement that the property be given to the city after construction.

The development agency previously required that the garden be given to the parks department in order to get the $90,000. But park board members had concerns about taking ownership because they weren’t sure Jones would be able to complete the project as planned for $200,000, parks director Chip Orner said. The plan also did not include additional lighting, which Orner wanted for security reasons, or a handicap-accessible ramp from the garden to Province Park.

Park officials said the idea is great. They said they are confident Jones, who does landscaping for the parks department, will make the garden beautiful. Orner said he could picture the garden becoming a popular outdoor wedding venue in the city or being used to host small gatherings for businesses and other groups. But he added park board members want to be able to look at a completed product, not conceptual drawings, before agreeing to take ownership.

“It would be awesome for the community, would clean up that area, be adjacent to the park and be beautiful,” Orner said. “They would love to have her do it and then take it.”

Development corporation board members required the garden be given to the city because of concerns about what would happen if the couple sold the property or didn’t want to maintain it any more. But new board members, who were appointed after the group reorganized last year, said they don’t have a problem with the couple owning it in the short term as long as the park board would agree to take it in the future.

Orner said he thinks park board members would agree to owning it in the future after Jones completed the project, so they could have a better idea what additional features the city might need to add or maintain.

Although the garden technically will be on private property, Jones said it will be open and available to the public.

The garden is a unique addition to the city. But the park board is taking a wise course in making sure the parks department can properly and effectively manage it before taking possession. That way the long-term survival of this cultural addition can be better ensured.

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