Franklin’s downtown park, amphitheater opens Friday

The dream of a new park in downtown Franklin that took shape years ago will be realized this weekend.

Tucked behind the Franklin Farmers Market parking lot and the shops of Jefferson Street and Jackson Street, Youngs Creek Park adds new green spaces to escape city life.

The park will also be intertwined with the life of the city and will stimulate tourism. It will welcome thousands of visitors for the city’s new concert series and downtown festivals.

For the first time this weekend, the park will be filled to the sound of music. The vast, lush lawn at the DriveHubler.com Amphitheater will be filled with lawn chairs and blankets.

Smells of burgers, tacos and kebabs will waft from food trucks parked under twinkling lights. Beer and wine will flow.

About 74 days ago, that dream was in question, as construction was 10 months behind schedule and progressed slowly during the winter months. City officials thought the odds of the park being ready to debut this weekend were 50/50.

City officials and contractor, Fishers-based Myers Construction Management, Inc., broke ground on the project in September 2020 with the original goal of having the park ready by July 2021. The goal post has been moved in October 2021, then at This weekend.

An early delay with the consolidation of the amphitheater foundation added a few weeks to the construction schedule, but supply and labor shortages were the main sources of delays, said Chip Orner, director of city ​​parks.

But all that is in the past now. With just days to go until opening weekend, the park is nearly complete, Orner said.

“The most important things left are landscaping and irrigation. We could have a gig without either of those things, so we’re past that point,” Orner said.

All major amenities of the $9 million park are ready for use: the 5,000 capacity amphitheater, inclusive playground, wading pool, pickleball courts, walking path, restrooms, vending areas and a pedestrian bridge connecting the park trail to the Greenlawn Cemetery trail.

Finer detail work, such as fencing around the playground, installing irrigation, installing additional overhead lighting, planting flowers and shrubs, and painting lines in the parking lot , Orner said.

Since the work is substantially complete at the end of the contract, city officials do not plan to amend the contractor, but will withhold retainer fees until the park is fully completed, Steve Barnett said. , mayor of Franklin.

“We’ve all been looking forward to this – employees and city officials who have been working on this for two years,” Barnett said. “We want to put that behind us and improve our quality of life in other ways.”

To celebrate the grand opening, Franklin officials are planning an all-day celebration Friday, starting at 10 a.m. with a marathon of five ribbon-cutting events celebrating different parts of the park and the sponsors who made it possible. The celebration culminates with the amphitheater’s first concert that evening. Opening act Gavin Curry takes the stage at 5:30 p.m. and the Blue River Band headliner continues at 7 p.m.

The celebration continues Saturday with the festival season kicking off at Festival County, Luau, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

David H. Henry