Development in Town of Franklin, Massachusetts
The Town of Franklin is a city in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. It is home to America’s first public library and has a population of just about over 33,000 residents Growing up in Franklin is an experience that is pretty typical in most suburban areas and being a resident of this town paves a way for making personal connections to its foundation, history, and future progressions. Many residents attend town council meetings and are able to voice opinions on certain projects, developments, and planning. Their website is full of documents addressing planning and development, health care, government, business, local news, education, various committees and members, and community. One particular segment that relates to many of the concepts discussed in class is Franklin’s previous development layouts and proposals is “Bringing Business to Franklin,” a project that was approved to designating and working on three areas of the town to increase economic opportunity.
This project was implemented and approved in 2010, with the goal of using new economic opportunity areas to encourage existing business to expand while also attracting new businesses. In 2010, Franklin’s economy was referred to as being “sluggish” and otherwise lagging despite the several businesses that cover the town. In order to receive positive outlooks on this development, Franklin noted that tax negotiation definitely came into play as well. Tax Increment Finance (TIF) agreement is a five to twenty-year property tax exemption based on the increased value of property due to improvements made. In addition to this, potential benefits for those companies who chose to participate in the expansion included qualifying for complete tax exemption on personal property. Franklin also highlights that there are several benefits resulting from this economic opportunity development that include employment opportunities as well as strengthening the town’s economic system and overall community for years to come with blooming businesses.
The article expands on the space that is already readily available for this project to launch as well as noting that the areas definitely promote higher levels of investment from larger companies. Reading this proposal document on Franklin’s website reminded me much of the video “Brooklyn Matters” in terms of where economic development and expansion wanted to be and why. Franklin’s 2010 proposal also allowed me to analyze this next to “The Green Development Zone as a Model for a New Neighborhood Economy” reading for class based on community effects. In terms of “Brooklyn Matters”, a connection could be made to the aims and goals of the Atlantic Yards expansion project, and why it was so favored by the members of this community. This development promised the people employment and benefits to daily life in Brooklyn, who may not have had equal opportunity or access to this area of society before. These individuals’ desires for economic expansion would match with the Town of Franklin’s interests. Franklin presses on newer and stronger employment opportunities that would also reflect the community atmosphere and uphold a better economic status for the whole area.
Differences can be drawn here between the “Atlantic Yards” project and “Bringing Business to Franklin.” Coming from a suburban area, more personal and realistic aspects are more paid attention to by the town. The Town Council carries out and approves town decisions, while making sure that “he/she represents the entire community at all times.” This statement comes straight out of the “Role of the Town Council” document located on Franklin’s site. This document expands on the Council roles and the relation of those roles to the community, the administrative officers of the town, and with fellow council members. The Council members definitely put the interests and wellbeing of the community of Franklin first and foremost, while Ratner was only interested in expansion for his own benefit and profit deriving from the “Atlantic Yards” project. His lack of community interest showed through running people out of their residences and promising jobs that were not sustainable for those who needed them. Although both these developments carry the same goals, the attitudes and social standings towards them differ in ways that also impact the effects of bigger, economic projects.
When looking at Green Development Zones, community interests and improvements were number one on Buffalo’s list of economic priorities. These GDZ’s, funded by the state, aimed to “combine green affordable housing construction, community-based renewable energy projects, green jobs training, and urban agriculture toward the goal of creating pathways to employment while improving housing conditions” (Bartley, 10). GDZ’s were developed by PUSH, and contained members of the community of Buffalo. These goals drive for long-term effects that will continue to flourish in Buffalo and allow members of the community to become economically mobile. Unlike Ratner, these employment opportunities also come with job training to develop the skills needed in order to ascend in the economy. The GDZ’s approach to expansion and community development heavily reflects on Franklin’s interests in building economy for a better town structure. The Council approaches the projects in a way that does not negatively impose on the personal lives of the community as well as proposing that expansion be done in areas that can handle it. Franklin deemed three areas, South Grove Street, North Grove Street, and Financial Way Economic Opportunity, as areas where economic improvement was beckoning, and businesses could truly unfold successfully. PUSH worked to develop a more environmentally beneficial structure within neighborhoods to improve ones that are already there and full of life. They worked to engage the community, and made those members feel like a direct part of the expansion. This involvement proved to be wildly successful for the Buffalo residents, which acts parallel with the Franklin Town Council in terms of holding meetings where opinions are allowed to be expressed and the Council holds the community’s interest at heart.
The Council also aims to assist business owners in this transition and takes concerns and ideas into consideration. With any project, the approaches and outcomes are not perfect. But when looking at the film compared to Franklin’s project and GDZ’s in Buffalo, there are significant differences in how these plans have played out. Brooklyn, Buffalo, and Franklin are also all very different cities. “Atlantic Yards” carries more detrimental effects from this development due to the ones in power as well as the changes undergoing a huge city. Buffalo, smaller than Brooklyn and Franklin even smaller than that, vary in how impactful the effects of planning are. But, when looking at smaller areas, the community is the main focus and determinant of how projects are deemed to go. There are more personal approaches and better resident involvement. Comparing and contrasting these three pieces has provided a clearer understanding to how and why developments are made for not only economic strength, but for economic progression.
Bartley, Aaron. “The Green Development Zone as a Model for a New Neighborhood Economy.” 9-20. Web.
Taberner, Bryan W. “Bringing Business to Franklin.” Welcome to Franklin, MA. B.p., 23 Nov. 2010.
Vallee, Bob. “Role of the Town Council.” Welcome to Franklin, MA. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.