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Franklin leader focuses on constructing a future

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Mayor Joe McGuinness gives his State of The City address Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at the  ArtCraft Theater in Franklin, Indiana. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Mayor Joe McGuinness gives his State of The City address Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at the ArtCraft Theater in Franklin, Indiana. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Construction crews were a noticeable fixture in Franklin last year as the city started projects to improve roads, add more parking and renovate the city’s pool.

Residents should expect more work in 2013, Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

“I gain great satisfaction from seeing positive, tangible results, and it will be difficult to trump 2012. But we will,” McGuinness said.

On Tuesday, McGuinness gave his State of the City address at the Artcraft Theatre and told residents that the city plans to keep road and infrastructure projects on a continual cycle, with workers starting a new project as others end.

Future projects include repaving a section of South Street and upgrading South Main Street with new sidewalks and landscaping.

Both projects are on the south side of downtown and are set to begin this summer as work ends on the city’s parking project, which will create nearly 100 new parking spaces downtown.

Residents will also notice improvements where dozens of homes were damaged in the 2008 flood.

The city has already demolished 61 homes in the area off of South Street and plans to plant more than 1,000 trees this April to create an urban forest. During the next few years, the city hopes to plant a total of 5,000 trees in the area, he said.

In the northern part of downtown, a project that has caused motorists to find alternate routes through the city since last summer will finally come to a close this year, and a second project will be started,

McGuinness said.

The North Main Street project began in June 2012 and includes replacing the sewer system beneath the street and upgrading the road and sidewalks.

The first phase of the project is set to be completed by November this year — about six months earlier than planned — and the second phase will be started in spring 2014.

Residents have previously complained about Main Street being closed for the construction, but McGuinness said the improvements will outweigh the inconveniences.

“I know that we will experience some growing pains as we address some of our deteriorating infrastructure and continue to see an increasing population. Please bear with us as we work to reach Franklin’s full potential,” McGuinness said.

With more projects planned, Franklin officials worked to make sure the city will be able to afford the improvements.

In 2012, Franklin added more than $1.5 million to its savings and cut the 2013 budget by about 7 percent, McGuinness said.

In addition, the Franklin Redevelopment Commission, which has helped pay for recent infrastructure projects with money from the city’s special taxing districts, ended 2012 with a balance of $6.2 million, McGuinness said.

“The redevelopment commission has been a tremendous partner for the city this past year, and they should all be commended for their willingness to fund many of the city’s projects,” McGuinness said.

Franklin also plans to help business owners improve the fronts of eight downtown buildings, add on to the city’s recreation center and finish renovating buildings where new businesses could be located.

McGuinness said he hopes the improvements will continue to attract new businesses to the area and will make the city more attractive for the people that live there.

“I am proud to call Franklin my home, and I will work tirelessly to ensure my children can do the same,” McGuinness said.

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