Like any business that's trying to drive new revenue, the City of Dawsonville, with help from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, yesterday released Dawsonville's new "Downtown Master Plan."
"I believe it puts our city on notice that we are serious about creating a downtown that is vibrant and sustainable," Mayor James Grogan said. "We are committed to making this happen. We've planned our work and now we will work our plan. We will not put this plan in a drawer and forget, but will work with it each day till completion. Many parts will be done on an immediate basis, but other parts could take several years.
"Our commitment to the citizens is to never stop working to make Dawsonville a community that you can be proud to say, 'I live there, Dawsonville, Georgia.'"
At 70 pages, the master plan highlights the city's top challenges based on results of surveys, town hall meetings, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups. It also presents vibrant before- and after-photos that highlight possible solutions.
Based on public opinions, the biggest issues the city faces are a lack of green space, trees and other public amenities such as seating; a lack of retail, restaurants, and activities; a lack of connectivity to places like city hall, the arts center, schools and courthouse. Also, residents said traffic in the downtown area is intimidating, particularly truck traffic.
Proposed solutions include a small city park, more and better crosswalks, creating green space by adding trees and grass, "infill development" that includes erecting buildings between existing ones, and even a race car-themed playground in front of city hall. Other goals include: promoting town hall events, a drive in movie theatre, a welcome center in the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, creating a true round-about at the historic courthouse, and creating a bed and breakfast at the Vandiver Home, among others.
Plans also call for more marketing of the city near the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall.
Grogan addressed the problem with truck traffic during the July 1 city council meeting.
"We've spent a lot of time with these people (GDOT); we've ridden with them on three or four occasions, trying to get something worked out for a different pattern for the trucks," Grogan said. "We don't have a lot of ways to send them. The problem is you go from state road to county road then back to state, so there's an issue between those two different functions."
Grogan also noted the bridges where trucks could potentially be re-directed would not withstand the heavy truck traffic.
"The point is we are not quitting the process," he said. "We continue to work on that process. There are other avenues of opportunity. Another thing that can be done is the round-about will slow them down. They have to delay or stop to get into it. Once we have other stuff in, it won't be as conducive to trucks coming through town."
The plan also notes the most critical element to success public input and engagement.
To view the city's Downtown Master Plan, www.dawsonville-ga.gov and click
Dawsonville Downtown Development Authority. Limited copies are also available at the city hall.