• Marty

Moving Forward in Franklin

NH Business Review | Liisa Rajala | March 3, 2017


Redevelopment effort breathes new life into the city


Slowly but surely, the city of Franklin is undergoing a transformation. The goal: to become a tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts and a home to millennials looking to make an impact on their community.


Renovations are in the works to turn the former art gallery Toad Hall into a restaurant by this summer. Just last fall, a team of engineers inspected the future site of a whitewater park.

CATCH Neighborhood Housing is in the midst of renovating a foreclosed mill building into 45 affordable apartment units. And that’s just naming a few of the happenings occurring in the city of approximately 8,400.


For decades, Franklin has made efforts to rewrite its history as a failing mill town, but this movement is even more crucial. With significant revenue shortfalls in recent years, the city must draw in new income or else face an even more dire future.


“We can’t tax our way out of our problems,” says City Manager Elizabeth Dragon, who has to find out-of-the-box solutions to balance the budget. “We need to find a way to generate new revenue, and we need to focus on economic development and tourism, attracting those new net dollars.”


It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort, with regular biweekly stakeholder meetings, a team of students from Colby-Sawyer College in New London and a number of active residents stepping in to volunteer their time and energy.


Permaculture


Integral to the effort are seven properties owned by PermaCityLife, a nonprofit founded by Todd Workman. Raised in Gilford and having worked in the financial services industry in New York and across New England, Workman initially returned to the area to tend to his grandparents. He was browsing real estate properties in New Hampshire when he came across Franklin and started purchasing buildings along Central Street in 2014.


Workman envisions Franklin as a sustainable community – protecting drinking water, creating renewable energy, ensuring local food supplies and implementing zero-waste measures – with a vibrant micro-urban centerpiece.


During the summer of 2015, Workman met Marty Parichand, a whitewater rafting guide and former avionic systems programming specialist who envisioned opening the first whitewater park in New England.