For Immediate Release: 04/08/02
National Battlefield Preservation Group Urges County to Reconsider Library Plan
CWPT urges Williamson County not to locate new Library on Franklin Battlefield
(Franklin, Tenn.) - In a letter today to Williamson County Executive Clint Callicott, the national Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) urged county officials to reconsider a plan to locate a new library on Franklin Battlefield. Franklin was recently identified as one of the ten most endangered battlefields in America by CWPT.
"I've seen what happens when localities put short-term financial benefits before the long-term economic benefits of historic preservation," noted CWPT President James Lighthizer. "All too often, something priceless and irreplaceable is lost - not just historic land, but the soul and spirit of a community."
Last year, the Williamson County Library Board announced plans to build a new county library in the heart of Franklin Battlefield. However, at the time of the decision, the Library Board failed to take into consideration the enormous historic significance of the site. Now, rather than correct their error, the board is compounding it by arguing that any proposal to relocate the new library would cause delays and cost taxpayers' money - delays and costs for which they are ultimately to blame.
"Is it not the Library Board's fault that the process has gone this far forward without the proper consideration of the historic resources of the proposed site?" Lighthizer declared. "Is it not they who are responsible for making an egregiously bad decision without input from the residents of Williamson County?"
In his letter, Lighthizer urged County Executive Callicott to "take whatever legal steps are necessary" to postpone the April 15th scheduled groundbreaking for the new library. Lighthizer also offered a private-public partnership that would bring battlefield preservation dollars into Williamson County. To show that the concern for preservation at Franklin is a national issue as well as a local one, Lighthizer referred the county executive to an editorial by TV personality Ben Stein that appears in today's edition of USA Today.
"The fate of Franklin Battlefield now rests in the hands of the Williamson County Board of Commissioners," Lighthizer concluded. "I look forward to working with you to halt the War Memorial Library and create a far more appropriate memorial to the nearly 10,000 American soldiers in blue and tattered gray who bled and died on the sacred soil of Williamson County."
With 39,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields