Franklin city, school officials working on parks master plan

As construction moves forward on the new Franklin High School and roundabout project, city and school officials are working together on how to better utilize Community Park and nearby Dial Park.

“This is a good opportunity to push the reset button and let the two entities figure out how to partner to benefit the community,” said Jonathan Westendorf, Franklin city manager.

He said the goal is to reimagine both parks with the relocation of the new high school to East Sixth Street. Dial Park is expected to open in 2023 at Ohio 123 and Tama Lane, and be utilized as a youth sports facility.

Westendorf said the school district has a need to improve and expand its athletic facilities that have been incorporated into the park and that both entities have been meeting to discuss the matter.

Franklin City Council approved an agreement to work with the Franklin Board of Education to engage McBride Dale Clarion and Human Nature to develop the joint parks and recreation master plan for their facilities.

Community Park is owned by the city, but Atrium Stadium and the track are owned by the Franklin Board of Education. In addition, the swimming pool is a joint venture between the city and Franklin Twp. Franklin High School’s baseball and softball teams also use dedicated fields at the park for their games. The park is also used youth baseball, soccer and football games.

Westendorf said city staff and members of council’s Parks and Recreation Committee have met with Franklin City Schools staff and members of the school board to discuss optimizing use of the parks system and to coordinate a mutually beneficial strategy for the city and school district’s parks and recreation facilities.

The project is estimated not to exceed $40,000 with the city covering 50% of the costs.

Franklin schools Superintendent Michael Sander said the school board was scheduled to consider the matter at its meeting on Monday. He said district officials have had joint meetings with city officials in discussing how to better utilize the fields.

“We’re both taxing entities and we want to be efficient as possible with tax dollars as we provide fields for students and residents to use,” Sander said.

He said the district is still identifying its needs for athletic fields and for its band.

“We’re still looking at the big-picture stuff,” Sander said. “But this is a perfect time to do it.”

He said preliminary plans for the new high school include the addition of a turf field to accommodate Franklin’s lacrosse as well as the boys and girls soccer teams. Sander said the new field could be located on the site of the former Save-A-Lot store at the corner of East Sixth and Anderson streets.

The school district purchased the former strip shopping center last year for additional ground for the new high school complex. The former junior high school on East Sixth Street has already been demolished.

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