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In Your Opinion: Statue Controversy Forces Questions

By Bill Connell, Somerset.

I have been a member of the Open Space Committee for many years.  Referring to it in its abbreviated name is misleading. The full name  is“Open Space, Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.” In my mind, I am a member of the second generation of the committee. It was created at a time when Franklin was being overrun with development.  The primary focus was acquiring large parcels of land or development rights to help manage Franklin’s growth.  It has been highly successful.

My generation has moved its focus on what to do with these properties. For instance, Middlebush and Catalpa were always on the short list of creating active recreation.  The Consolata Property just acquired may have a similar future but you can only do so much so fast. The good news is there will be no townhouses or condos built there. Route 27 is bad enough already.

The breadth of topics the Open Space committee discusses is amazing and interesting. Amoung many things,  Land Purchases, Scout projects, Bird Migration and Habitat, Salamanders and water health, Herbicides and Pesticides, Mowing grass, Slate vs. Synthetic roofs,  Hunting, Sports and now statues.  The first issue is you can not just drop a statue amusement park on Open Space land without proper review.  Council has final say but we are the gatekeepers. Councilman Prasad’s violation of the public trust and embarrassment to the council is well documented, but the Open Space committee still has work to do regardless of how they conduct themselves.

This issue forces us to ask the questions.  Is a plaque the same as a statue. Is the gift from an Eagle Scout the same as a gift of a statue. Should we put up statues of legends (subjective) or only homegrown people who had a proven and positive impact on Franklin. Is there a real need for the park when there are simpler, less contentious ways to do things.   The devil is in the details.

Your Thoughts

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