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News Citizens offer gazebo designs at town hall meeting

Downtown business owners, stake holders and other citizens peruse potential designs for a gazebo makeover at a forum sponsored by Venture Local and League of Women Voters.Since the Town of Franklin's annual retreat back in January, there has been a buzz around Main Street concerning the gazebo located at town square. A design was presented to the board which was later released to the public and drew criticism from many local residents, business owners and performers.

As a response to the outcry, the League of Women Voters along with Venture Local Franklin hosted a “town hall” style meeting at Tartan Hall of the First Presbyterian Church on Monday night to give the public a chance to hash out various ideas. Some members of the public also submitted architectural designs for consideration.

Angelo Ramos was the first to present his design to the large number of attendees.

The design that he showed the crowd would promote better acoustics for presenters or musical acts who may use the space. There would also be adjustable panels in the back that could be used for advertisements or illustrations to promote the natural aspects of the area.

“When I heard about the design forum, I took it as a challenge,” he told the room. “A lot of the material could be prefabricated to save on construction time. There isn't a lot of construction material here. It's a metal roof, beams, stucco and masonry. There's a storage space in the back.”

Acoustics was a big talking point for those who chose to speak. Bruce Koehler explained the current state of sound at the gazebo.

“With the shape of the gazebo being like a bell, the sound gets trapped up in there. It has no way of being reflected. Mr. Ramos' design is very close to what we need, I feel,” he said.

Koehler also touched on the need for lighting, which along with the sound issues, was echoed by local business owner and musician Adam Kimsey.

“From a personal standpoint and as a member of a band, a loud band, I can say that the acoustics are not great and that's a huge issue. Also, I think we need the lighting. If that addition is made then performers can play past 8:30,” said Kimsey.

Richard Clark of Clark and Co. Landscape Service also touched on a concern beyond just the structure, pointing to the need to consider the space as a whole.

“I'd be glad to work on any future plans for the space, we could use CAD [computer-aided design] to place and move things to different places. Just let me know and I'll try to be as accommodating as I can. I do use a system where we can place power and water. That's in the CAD program as well,” said Clark.

Joe Bell from Cabin Creek Timber Framing was also present at the meeting to offer designs of structures that he has built before and fabricated in his shop.

“I don't presume to have the wisdom to come up with a design for this thing, you are certainly much better equipped for that than I am, but I did want to distribute these designs just in case they may help in the process.”

Performers who have used the stage in the past followed the attendees who had design presentations or at least some suggestions for the officials who had chosen to attend the meeting such as Aldermen Joyce Handley, Barbara McRae, Patti Abel, Mayor Bob Scott, as well as Macon County Commissioner Paul Higdon.

Ruth Goodier, from a local line dancers group who used to perform at Pickin' on the Square suggested that Ramos' design would be the best for their performances.

“We used to perform four or five times during the summer at Pickin' on the Square but for the last couple of years we haven't been able to because the stage was gone. A design like Mr. Ramos has would be perfect to allow us to come back,” she said.

Local resident and former emcee Patti Mc- Clure requested that designers and officials refrain from adding restrooms to the structure.

Local business owner Matt Bateman suggested that the stake-holders develop a cohesive plan for the structure.

“This space could directly affect my business, and those who come into the town. I'm a big proponent of the AT. We've all seen the hikers in our town. They shop at our businesses and directly affect our community. That's pretty crucial. I think we need to consider the vision for the town and the direction we're moving in with this space,” he said as the meeting wound down.

Attendees were encouraged to fill out a questionnaire describing their preferred course for the gazebo. The Franklin Board of Aldermen will have their monthly meeting on May 7 at town hall and could consider comments and designs from the Tartan Hall meeting then. The meeting is at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.


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