Franklin School site has new life as park
DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette
Area residents were ecstatic Thursday for the grand opening of Franklin School Park.
“We’re excited,” longtime resident Jean Mendenhall said, beaming.
Mendenhall, who graduated from Franklin School in the early 1950s, especially liked that the school’s arches were kept intact.
The park features unveiled Thursday, which include a splashpad, new walkways, park lighting and the restored historic arches from the Franklin School in their original locations, represent Phase 1 of the two-phase project.
Fundraising is underway for the second phase of development, which will convert the former school garage into a rentable year-round pavilion. The architecture of the pavilion has been designed to complement the entry arches.
Phase 2 is expected to begin sometime in early 2017.
“This truly is a spectacular contribution to our city,” Mayor Tom Henry said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun once we get it all finished and we want you to use it. That’s what it’s here for.”
Henry said that the purpose of the new park was to make the neighborhood “more attractive than it already is and we wanted to make sure that we had something to add to the family values that are present in this area.”
Patricia Stein said she also grew up in the area surrounding the site and watched it transform from a school to the city’s public safety academy to a vacant building in 2012.
She’s happy the location has been transformed into a park that’s within walking distance to her house.
“I just hope it brings good people to it,” Stein said.