Riverfront park idea proposed for Franklin’s riverbank

Franklin’s city manager is proposing the city consider a riverfront park, closer access to the Great Miami River and wi-fi for downtown and Community Park

City Manager Jonathan Westendorf has been in his new position for just more than two months, but he rolled out an ambitious plan of ideas and future projects for Franklin’s council to consider during its annual strategic planning meeting.

Westendorf proposed an open air amphitheater along the east bank of the Great Miami River. He also suggested putting in a picnic area, an expanded park walk and perhaps a splash pad. He said the proposed project would require the closing of River Street between Third and Fifth streets.

“People in Franklin can see the river and we need to light the (Lions) Bridge,” Westendorf said. “It gives reasons for people and businesses to come downtown. We need to create a destination.”

He said the area between Second and Sixth streets can be developed as it is not part of the Miami Conservancy District’s levee system and the district will allow development.

Westendorf said additional traffic and market analysis and recommendations will need to be completed. He also said there would need to be an evaluation of the downtown streetscape.

In the downtown area, Westendorf is also proposing a pair of downtown improvement programs to encourage more development. He is proposing a facade grant program that would offer a 50% matching grant to target areas up to a maximum of $20,000. However, the grant would exclude operating expenses, salaries, debt relief, parking lot, sidewalk repair, and associated interior and mechanical systems.

The other downtown grant would be to develop rooftop access and seating. He said the proposed grant would offer 50% matching grant to target areas up to a maximum of $20,000. Like the other downtown grant, it would also have the same exclusions.

Westendorf is also proposing a Wi-Fi and Smart City zone for downtown and at Community Park. He said the access costs would be paid by sponsored advertisers that would see an ad before connecting to the Wi-Fi system. The system would also promote city events and programs such as the Farmers Market.

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