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Revitalization plans aired during meeting

POSTED: May 8, 2013 4:00 a.m.

Conceptual plans to revitalize downtown Dawsonville were released during a town hall meeting last week.

A project of the Dawsonville Downtown Development Authority, the plan focuses on revitalizing the historic district, enhancing the gateways that lead in and out of downtown and improving connectivity, the vision plan is based on data collected through one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys.

Several local business leaders and community volunteers make up the project's steering committee, which is working with researchers from the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government to develop a strategic improvement plan for the city.

Information gathered shows the community believes the city needs additional sidewalks for better walkability and connectivity, more restaurants, retail and greenspace, a truck route for tractor-trailors and improvements to the facades of existing buildings.

While parts of the conceptual plan are long-term ideas, improving the visualization of the downtown area by planting trees and creating grassy knolls along sidewalks and roadways are easily obtainable, according to City Councilman Chris Gaines.

"I talked to several people [after the town hall meeting] and they all liked what they saw with the trees and the landscaping," he said. "Making visual improvements like planting trees shows that we're working and that we're an active city and I think that's important for businesses that are looking to invest here and for residents to see a thriving and an active downtown.

"No matter how small it is, it's a step forward."

Among the group's long-term goals are hidden power lines, specifically around the town's historic courthouse, a truck route that would reduce tractor trailer traffic through the downtown square and visual improvements to the city's existing businesses.

"The long-term goals like removing the power lines ... that to me isn't something that's an immediate need. Plus it's cost prohibiting," Gaines said. "It's still important, but it's not a make or break. Dahlonega did it and it makes a visual impact. Again that's long term and not a critical thing."

A long-range revitalization plan was developed for the city of Dawsonville years ago.

But according to authority members, it was eventually dismissed due to an unrealistic idea of Dawsonville's true identity.

The new plan identifies Dawsonville's assets, including its unique history of racing and moonshine, and includes goals and strategies that can be implemented in one to three years.

Gaines said the ultimate goal is to create a safe and vibrant downtown area.

 

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