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City eyes state historic preservation funds after obtaining DNR certification
Dawsonville is Georgia’s 96th Certified Local Government
City of Dawsonville

The city of Dawsonville can now apply for grants to help preserve and protect its cultural heritage, thanks to an official designation by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division.

Effective May 4, the city of Dawsonville is Georgia’s 96th Certified Local Government, or CLG.

CLG status is granted by the National Parks Service and the state Historic Preservation Division and is a partnership to preserve historic character and cultural heritage in communities across the U.S.

The certification allows the city to obtain grants through the state from the Federal Historic Preservation Fund for projects including surveys, rehabilitation work, education programs, design guidelines, structural assessments and more.

The city council passed a local preservation ordinance in November of 2014 and the Historic Preservation Commission held its first meeting in February of 2015. Since then the five-member board has worked tirelessly to obtain the CLG status, and received word in December of 2017 that their application had been approved.

Since then, they have been awaiting the official confirmation from DNR, according to current HPC member and former city council member Angie Smith.

Smith has spearheaded the movement for historic preservation in the city, and said she is excited to see the past few years of hard work finally pay off.

“Certification will be another avenue to bring focus to our historic district, open new funding opportunities and allow us to become part of the CLG community,” Smith said. “Dawsonville is long overdue for some emphasis on the importance of preserving our heritage and resources and we believe that becoming a CLG is a great step in accomplishing that goal.”

Along with the requirements of establishing a historic preservation commission and local preservation ordinance, the city also has to maintain a system for survey and inventory of local historic resources.

For that the city sought the help of Georgia Mountains Regional Commission Regional Planner Joe Rothwell.

In 2016, Rothwell helped the city produce a historic resource survey, a color-coded map that shows all of the current and potential historic sites within the city and the year in which they were built.

The data is not online yet, but the map will help the HPC pinpoint potential projects within the historic district and identify sites to include in future historic districts.  

Once those projects are determined, the commission can then apply for grant funding.

Rothwell said Thursday that the grant cycle for historic preservation will begin in December, and that typically six to 12 CLGs will receive between $5,000 and $15,000 each year from the state.

Competition for the grants is climbing, he said, due to the high number of governments obtaining the certification in Georgia.

Georgia has the highest number of CLG-designated communities in the U.S.

The next meeting of the city Historic Preservation Commission is 5:30 p.m. June 18 in the second floor council chambers at city hall.