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Contractor offers to help Franklin build skatepark

Contractor offers to help Franklin build skatepark

JE Dunn Construction was hired by HCA Healthcare to build the new Angel Medical Center in Franklin, but Superintendent Steve Suttles recently told the town council the company wanted to be remembered for improving the town’s future in another way.

“We try to get involved in the community everywhere we go,” Suttles told council during a June 7 meeting. 

The hospital is scheduled for completion in June 2022, but in the meantime, Suttles wants to help Franklin work on another important project. When he reached out to the town about the best way to be of service, town leaders talked to him about the recent support from the community to develop an outdoor skate park. At last month’s council meeting, dozens of people crowded town hall to express their support for a skate park to give teens a safe and legal place to skate within town limits. The town agreed to move forward with looking into possibilities. 

Suttles said that project to help the youth sounded like a perfect partnership opportunity for JE Dunn. 

“We can come and help raise money and help get our trade partners involved to volunteer their time and money,” he said, adding that whatever they’re able to help raise locally for the project, JE Dunn Corporate headquarters would match.

Suttles said the cost of materials would probably be around $100,000. He also said much of the time could be donated from HCA and JE Dunn partners. 

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“HCA spends a lot of money with Southern Concrete so I think we can get a good deal on that,” he said. 

Suttles, who lives in Haywood County and is a Pisgah High grad, said he was familiar with Waynesville’s skate park and his crew went to Highlands to look at its skate park as well. 

After scouting out several potential locations in Franklin, Town Manager Summer Woodard suggested Jaycee/Franklin Memorial Park has the best location for the skate park. 

“This would be an ideal one-time cost to use fund balance money and I would encourage maybe pursuing Jaycee park — it’s well-maintained, there’s parking, it’s walkable from Franklin High School,” she said. 

JE Dunn is recommending installing a permanent concrete structure for the skate park pad. A permanent concrete pad would hold up better to rain and potential flooding from the creek. Similar to Waynesville’s structure, the slope would be open on both sides so water doesn’t accumulate in the middle. 

Project Engineer Anders Ike said he’d also reached out to the Western Carolina University Construction Management program and the construction classes at Franklin High to get them involved in the project as well. 

“I’m interested and excited about this project because I’m part of the younger generation,” Ike told the board. “It would be great to see people outside and active, instead of sitting inside staring at a screen.”

Mayor Bob Scott said it sounded like a great plan and asked if Suttles and Ike would be willing to continue working with town officials and members of the skating community to put together a plan. Suttles and Ike agreed to keep moving forward on the project. 

Until a permanent structure is completed, Franklin Police Chief Bill Harrell said he’s been in discussions with the First United Methodist Church about their skateboarding ministry and allowing skaters to use the church’s moveable skate park structure.

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