Small towns gearing up for growth, making improvements
by W. Winston Skinner
Coweta County’s smaller towns have been busy in 2013 and are making big plans for the future.
Haralson, Moreland, Sharpsburg and Turin are all towns with minimal staff and small budgets. The four towns, however, are good places to live and are looking to improve life for their citizens.
Sharpsburg, particularly, is planning to grow. The town has annexed “enough property to more than double the size of the town in the last year,” Mayor Wendell Staley said.
“One of the parcels was more than 100 acres,” he said. That property – along Georgia Highway 16 East – is designed for commercial development with a grocery store and shopping center. “There will be a housing development behind it,” Staley said.
Another 100 acres “will stay like it is” for the present, the mayor said.
The town also owns a parcel at the north end of town that is for sale. City officials hope to see it developed as commercial.
Staley said a street that was paved in the city – a project that drew some controversy because of its cost – is something he sees as a real accomplishment. “It had to be done. Somebody had to bite the bullet,” he stated.
“We have completed our recreation center and city hall renovation – and the addition. We have added a large parking area in the back,” Staley said. There will be room to park about 50 cars.
The land next to the A&O Bridges Center is slated to become a park. There will be a pavilion that will seat 125 people. The park will have a gazebo stage on one side and a second stage on the other end.
The tennis courts will be removed to create the park. While the courts “were great in their time,” Staley said they are seeing little use now that tennis courts are available at the nearby county Hunter Complex.
The park will have a lot of green space and will include land that has belonged to the city for years as well as another piece of property purchased with a donation “from a very generous citizen,” Staley said. The park should be completed by mid-summer.
Haralson got its park – next to the town offices – completed during the past year. “We’ve got the pavilion that can be used for family reunions and parties,” Mayor Ted Bateman noted. The park includes a one-third mile walking trail and playground equipment.
“We’re working on getting an early warning weather system in conjunction with what the county’s doing,” Bateman said, adding that a sidewalk expansion project is in the early planning stages.
In Moreland, preparation work has been done for restoration of the two-story section of the Moreland Mill, which houses town offices, a meeting area and museum space. Plans to streamline their budgeting process are also under way.
Moreland Mayor Josh Evans has a goal of seeing that ideas from the Blueprints project, done for the town by the Georgia Conservancy, turn into reality. He said the study – which brought graduate students from the Georgia Institute of Technology to town to look at options for improvements – was “the biggest thing” in the town during the past year.
The Georgia Tech students “all had different expertise” and shared insights on city planning, transportation and other topics, Evans said. “Some of the things were things we knew we needed to work on,” while others were fresh ideas.
Evans is particularly interested in seeing the Blueprints concepts of “doing different things to improve the greenspace” on the town square implemented.
“We’re going to put together a Blueprints task force. I’m in the process of doing that,” he said. Evans also hopes the town will join the West Georgia Textile Trail and capitalize on the current interest in Georgia’s textile and textile mill heritage.
During 2013, Moreland will move forward with its Transportation Enhancement Act grant, which will connect Moreland Elementary School with the town square and add historic light poles and benches to the downtown area.
“That money’s already allocated,” Evans said. “It’s moving as fast as the DOT and engineers can move it.”
Turin continues to be a great place to live. The historic Walter B. Hill School, which is now the town hall, has been the site of several meetings during the past year, and the annual tractor pull in August drew yet another large crowd.
Turin has also joined other towns and the county in participating in cooperative efforts ranging from a day for mayors to deliver Meals on Wheels to the first ever Joint Comprehensive Transportation Plan for the county.
Turin’s list of projects to be funded with the current county-wide Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax include projects related to water, roads, public safety, stormwater/ wastewater management, sidewalks and paths and parks and recreation.