PHOTO: Franklin Mayor Ken Moore poses in front of a DeLorean at the State of the City address inside Liberty Hall at the Factory on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.//Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
In 1988, George H Bush defeated Michael Dukakis to become President of the United States.
Around the same time in Franklin, moviegoers at the Franklin Theatre could see “Back to the Future” for $2, a brand new home cost $150,000, and Franklin city officials struggled with ideas of how to grow sustainably.
Inside Liberty Hall at the Factory at Franklin on Wednesday morning, an audience was transported to the late ’80s and early ’90s in the “Back to the Future” -themed State of the City address.
Guests were greeted by a DeLorean, courtesy of Jeff Smith, while the event began with breakfast and an open house with booths for various city departments before a video opened the address.
Mayor Ken Moore took on the persona of time traveler Marty McFly with a red puffer vest and white Nikes, while City Administrator Eric Stuckey donned a wacky white wig, goggles and a lab coat to play Doc Brown.
In a short guest role scene, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson was seen trying to skateboard outside the old courthouse.
“The idea was to look back 30 years in the past and identify those parallels that exist with what was happening then and now in growth, transportation, infrastructure and housing,” Moore said Wednesday.
From the video, “The same issues I just mentioned were happening back 30 years ago,” Moore pointed out.
“We are a city that has an X factor, some people say,” he continued. “I don’t know what the X factor is, and I for one don’t want to see that X factor lost.”
Short clips played of people who had a hand in maintaining, improving, and documenting Franklin’s growth over the years
Rudy Jordan, the past Heritage Foundation and Downtown Franklin Association director, led the effort to beautify Main Street in an effort known as Streetscape in 1991.
Images of vinyl-sided buildings, broken sidewalks, and empty streets flashed across the screen as Jordan spoke in a recorded video.
Former city planner Bob Martin, husband of Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin, spoke next about the CoolSprings Galleria mall, where construction began in 1990.
At the time, the Galleria was the largest regional shopping mall in Tennessee.
Planning, Stuckey said, has long been a strength of city officials.
Here are some of the latest city improvements Moore and Stuckey pointed to. Click on the bullet point to read previous Home Page coverage of the topic.
- Stuckey pointed to 231 Public Square, the long-delayed project on town square slated to have a rooftop restaurant, and the $100 million-plus Harpeth Square hotel and office development on Main Street.
- Mack Hatcher Parkway construction
- Sidewalk additions to Highway 96 East and West.
- Columbia Avenue widening
- McEwen Phase 4 construction
- Construction of a new park in the southeast of Franklin
- Construction of a new water treatment plant
Moore also addressed the speculation surrounding the city’s increasingly outdated city hall, that was built as a small shopping mall.
“It’s time to make some decisions on the new city hall,” he said, noting there is “some money in the budget for that.”
“The city hall that you see is now the ugliest building on the square,” he said, adding that, “it’s probably the most expensive building in the entire city to maintain.”
“It is time we look for improving that property and also giving our employees a better place to work and to work more efficiently,” Moore finished.
Moore pointed to affordable housing as one of the hot topics he had noticed in city meetings and across social media.
With a $475,000 investment from the city, Habitat for Humanity, the Franklin Housing Association, and the Hard Bargain Association have built 150 affordable and workforce homes, he said.
Key elements of the new budget include a market adjustment for city employees, $1 million more for streets and sidewalks, and a slight increase in cost for sanitation services (about $1.50 per month).
Moore also put city growth in perspective.
“I’ve often heard people say, let’s shut the doors and not let anybody else in,” Moore said.
“You’re either growing or you’re regressing, and I think we don’t want to regress. We don’t want to go backwards,” Alderman Margaret Martin, a lifelong resident of Franklin, said.
“Franklin has not always been what it is today, but it’s very difficult for people who have just come in the last few years to realize that.”