Thursday night the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planners Association presented Mill City Park and the City of Franklin with the 2019 Project of the Year award. This comes roughly 5 months after we received the same award from the New Hampshire chapter.
During the reception we were challenged to provide stories rather than acceptance speeches to illustrate part of the journey.
The Mayor and I did our best at impromptu story telling. This story is constantly evolving and growing, but it has its foundation is a story of outdoor recreation, community and forgotten or lost artifacts.
Resilience, Planning and Design, the City of Franklin and Mill City Park attended the award ceremony at the Mount Washington Omni Resort.
Not much separates Franklin’s story from other mill towns or more accurately river towns. Their growth during the industrial age is well documented, as is, their demise. What isn’t well documented is their interpersonal or societal impacts… Low self worth, loss of community pride, home selection based on individual's economic status rather than a desire to live within that town, degradation of infrastructure and/or building stock. Eventually, this cascades into struggling city and school systems.
The collection of problems has made this a truly fascinating project. It provides a brand, a reason to exist, a reason to have pride, a reason to love where you live. Our project is tangible, it is filled with work products or features that we are building (a timber frame pavilion, a whitewater park, bike trails, etc.). However, as an organization it is the intangibles that make this a great project. Our community grows everyday, many residents believe the direction we are going and contribute with hours of volunteering or monetary donations. They believe. As do the folks, from Idaho, Wyoming and California, that recently purchased homes or got jobs in our neighborhood because of this movement.
The overall goal is simple… Connect our community to the river, and the rest will come. Marty