Demolition of Murfreesboro’s Franklin Heights housing project begins

Scott Broden, Daily News Journal, September 19, 2017

Crews are demolishing 17 of the former Franklin Heights public housing buildings to clear room for the Doug Young Public Safety Training Center, an official said.

“Five of the buildings will be kept,” Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks said Tuesday. “Those five have new roofs, and work will begin over the next few weeks with further rehab of those buildings for use as training buildings.”

The five remaining buildings are toward the back side of the property that fronts the east side of Bridge Avenue and is on the south side of New Salem Highway.

The other 17 buildings will be demolished in the next few weeks for a police and firefighter training center the City Council named in honor of then Vice Mayor Doug Young before his death in December.

“As soon as the portion of the property that has currently been demolished has the debris removed from it, preparations will begin for the concrete pad that will hold the new drill tower,” Foulks said. “Delivery of the tower is scheduled to occur the first week of December. Erection of the tower will begin immediately thereafter and will take approximately three months.”

Training center will exclude rifle range

The Murfreesboro City Council bought the 62-year-old Franklin Heights, which stopped providing public housing for low-income families in 140 units, for $450,000 to convert the 8.9 acres into the training center.

“We’re just excited from the council standpoint to see the training facility being constructed to help improve the skills of our police and our firefighters,” Councilman Eddie Smotherman said. The council has approved $3.5 million so far for the project, which has an initial $3.8 million budget.

Before buying the Franklin Heights property, city officials pursued a previous police and firefighter training center plan that included a rifle range that would have been built on the far north side of Murfreesboro off Central Valley Road.

City officials backed off that proposal in May 2015 when neighbors packed a community meeting at Walter Hill Elementary School to complain.

When the city decided to build the center at Franklin Heights without a rifle range, only two people showed up in August 2016 to examine the current plans in their neighborhood at McFadden Community Center.

City officials also have discussed finding land elsewhere for the proposed rifle range.

Materials from old buildings will be recycled

The demolished buildings will still have value to the city, Foulks said.

“All of the brick, concrete and concrete block will be crushed and will remain onsite as base for driving areas and some of the building areas on the site,” Foulks said.

The metal from the demolished buildings will be among the materials being recycled, the chief said.

“We are keeping several doors and windows to utilize in the buildings that we are keeping as replacement when the originals are damaged,” Foulks said.

The contractor will work along the New Salem Highway side of the property first and then will tear down the other buildings along Bridge Avenue “after we host Firehouse Expo in mid-October,” the chief added.

“Demolition should be completed by the end of the calendar year, if not before,” Foulks said.

Training center to include K-9 area

Once all phases are completed, the training center will include other structures to prepare police and firefighters:

  • Classroom and administration building (classroom-based training including but not limited to an emergency medical services lab)
  • Storage building for equipment
  • Drill tower for training on search and rescue, rappelling, confined space rescue and other tactical exercises
  • Burn module
  • Five buildings will remain in place along the back of the property for various practical training activities
  • Simulated streetscape for motor vehicle accidents, traffic stops, etc.
  • Outdoor classroom, kitchen, restroom facility
  • K-9 training area
  • Firefighting props (car, dumpster, tank, etc.)
  • Physical fitness/obstacle course
  • Driving pad

Reach Scott Broden at 615-278-5158 and on Twitter @ScottBroden.

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