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Williamson County, City of Franklin Exploring Purchase of Harlinsdale Farm to Create Park



FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The City of Franklin and Williamson County government announced March 4, 2004, that they will work together to determine the feasibility of jointly purchasing and operating Harlinsdale Farm as a community park.

Harlinsdale Farm is a historic 200-acre farm located at 239 Franklin Road, near the intersection with Mack Hatcher Parkway.

Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and Franklin Mayor Tom Miller said the governments have executed a letter of interest on the property with the Harlin family, owners of the property. The letter provides exclusive rights for the governments until July 31, 2004, to obtain property appraisals, develop a site-use plan, examine transaction options and receive community input on the concept.

According to the mayors, a park at Harlinsdale could be modeled after Edwin Warner Park in northern Williamson County, which is part of the Warner Parks. The Warner Parks were established in 1927 and now attract 500,000 visitors with an equestrian center, hiking and bike trails and picnic facilities.

Owned by the Harlin family since 1932, Harlinsdale has played a prominent role in the development of the modern-day Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

Harlinsdale was the home of Midnight Sun, a black stallion that was named 1945 and 1946 World Grand Champion at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville. Since 1949, all but four Walking Horse world champions have had a bloodline linked to Midnight Sun.

“This is an important opportunity that deserves our full consideration. Harlinsdale occupies an important place of history within our community,” said Miller. “It is our responsibility to try to preserve properties like this for future generations. We thank the Harlin family for their stewardship in allowing us to explore ways to keep Harlinsdale intact for the entire community to enjoy.”

In recent years, Harlinsdale and its horses have become unofficial community ambassadors, appearing in many published photographs of the area.

“The people in Williamson County share a special connection to the land and Harlinsdale speaks to that bond,” said Anderson. “It provides a sense of place and source of pride because it represents something truly unique to our community and quality of life. The Harlins understand this, and we appreciate their good faith in allowing us to discuss this concept.”

The mayors acknowledged that there are more questions than answers at this stage of the concept, but both said they felt strongly that a “landmark property” such as Harlinsdale deserves a significant effort for preservation. The next steps are presentations to the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Williamson County Commission.

“Our family has had a number of inquiries to buy Harlinsdale over the past few years,” said Bill Harlin. “We’re resisted to this point because it had to be the right fit - something that was good for us and also good for the community.”

“We like the idea that this great land can be preserved and enjoyed by even more folks in the future,” said Tom Harlin.

The collaboration on Harlinsdale Farm marks the latest in a series of joint projects by Williamson County and the City of Franklin, including the Williamson County Recreation Center, Cool Springs Conference Center and Fourth Avenue Parking Garage.

In the past, Williamson County has also partnered with other municipalities on various community service projects, including the library, the indoor sports complex and The Martin Center, in Brentwood; and the public health facility, the library and community centers in Fairview. This proposed partnership with Franklin, in an effort to preserve this pastoral property, demonstrates another opportunity for local governments to work together for the benefit of all our citizens.

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