Franklin residents spar over The Rock expansion

Posted at 9:48 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 23:25:19-05

Franklin residents are sparring over a huge expansion of The Rock Sports Complex. The proposed development – which is estimated at more than $100 million – would include a baseball stadium, hotel, retail space, and luxury apartments. It’s known as “Ballpark Commons.” But, people who live nearby are not finding much common ground on the project.

Signs of growth are everywhere at The Rock. A hotel was built across the street to meet demand created by the facility. Currently, The Rock has snow tubing in the winter, a bike park, amphitheater, bar, and baseball diamonds. The thought of it growing to include much more has people who live nearby in a fight. Some want to see it expand, while others say no way!

“The more stuff that comes here the better,” says Franklin resident Rosanne Lieble. “It’s exciting for Franklin. Let’s put our city on the map.  I think they could make something really great out of this.”

Hopeful neighbors shared ideas of what an expansion should include.

“It would be nice to have a restaurant and a pub,” Lieble says. “Having some shops would be awesome.”

“Mini golf, an arcade, a pool with water slides,” Joe Till adds. “Make it a destination. Something for families, so we don’t have to go further and spend our dollars elsewhere. I love having The Rock close by.”

But others in the neighborhood are losing hope, and fearful their concerns aren’t being considered.

“We’ve reached out to the city, the county, the developer,” says Mary Draginis. “Who’s going to buy my house with that huge complex right across the street? My property values are going to be affected.”

Draginis says The Rock brings noise and traffic congestion to her quiet neighborhood. And bright lights shine into her home.

“My grandsons have the bedroom that faces The Rock,” she says. “It’s like bright day light in their room until midnight.”

Bob Knoll, whose backyard connects with The Rock, says it’s more than a nuisance. He believes expanding the property to include a baseball stadium could be a health hazard, because The Rock covers a landfill.

“I'm concerned about the pressure on the landfill,” he describes. “Of the weight of a stadium, the 4,000 people it would hold, plus their cars, and buses, and whatever else. What will a disruption do to the setting of that waste material in the landfill? Will that cause methane to escape? Will it cause ground water to be contaminated? I think a stadium would be good for our area, but this is not the right location.”

TODAY'S TMJ4 did speak with Michael Zimmerman, the owner of the Rock Sports Complex. He assures that nothing can be built without full environmental testing and approval of the site. Zimmerman also says he’s and the developers are taking all opinions into account, to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible with the project. He’s hoping for a summer start.