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My Turn: Investment in whitewater park will help Franklin and the state

For the Monitor
Published: 4/10/2019 12:11:30 AM

I am writing to add my support for the one-time funding of $1.5 million to the city of Franklin for construction of our whitewater park.

On March 21, N.H. Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes was quoted by NHPR as saying that he would prefer to see the state’s money spent on “real support for local property taxpayers, including increased state education funding and increased revenue sharing.”

I believe this $1.5 million is real support to the property taxpayers of Franklin and neighboring communities, and will definitely allow increased education funding to our schools.

The funding of social and educational programs by the state is important to all communities, but this funding must be continuous and sustainable, and likely renewed annually.

For a city to develop a way to generate funds on its own, without continuous state funding, should be a goal for all, for it will allow that community to help itself.

With this one-time funding, the city of Franklin will be helping our taxpayers and our surrounding community realize tangible economic growth through the development of an exciting new 365-day recreation venue that will positively impact vacation opportunities throughout New Hampshire.

This park will be the first of its kind in New England and will be a reason to head to New Hampshire for summer water sport activities.

Franklin struggles as a property-poor community with 28 percent of our population below the poverty line; 65 percent of our students on subsidized lunch programs; and an assessed property value per capita of $80,805. Similar trends exist in Tilton and Northfield. Estimates from state agencies have put the positive economic impact of this water park to the city of Franklin as $6.8 million in direct and $4.8 million of indirect spending in our community.

With this economic growth, the city can better address its problems.

Travel and tourism data measured by Plymouth State University has shown that 35 percent of direct spending is on food and accommodations. With a 9 percent rooms and meals tax, $215,000 would be collected annually. Therefore, this $1.5 million appropriation or investment in Franklin would be paid off in seven years through new state revenues.

Franklin has found a way forward to help pull itself up from the economic turmoil caused by mill closings and recessions. The governor recognized this effort in a one-time – repeat, one-time – investment in Franklin that will pay for itself in seven years.

With the restoration of these monies to the budget, Franklin and other communities will be encouraged to look beyond traditional economic growth venues to new ideas that will grow their communities and encourage a more diverse population to consider New Hampshire as their recreation destination.

With the additional funds, our city schools and infrastructure will be stabilized and upgraded, and our city will have the potential to attract the businesses and population to sustain the positive growth this one-time investment can provide.

I sincerely appreciation your positive consideration of restoring this one-time allocation/investment in Franklin.

(Jo Brown of Franklin is a city councilor for Ward 1.)

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