Open house held to plan Newnan’s future projects
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Initial ideas from Newnan’s “Livable Centers Initiative” study were presented Monday at an open house meeting held at Newnan Carnegie Library.
Consultants are working with the city on a $150,000 study to help determine future improvements to the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. The study is paid for with a $130,000 LCI grant, and future grants are available to fund projects identified in the plan.
“We felt very pleased with the turnout,” said Tracy Dunnavant, city planning and zoning director. There were about 45 people who attended. Dunnavant said having a drop-in style meeting helped improve turnout.
Visitors asked questions and filled out comment cards. “We got quite a few comments, which will be helpful as we start coming up with some pretty solid recommendations,” Dunnavant said. Specific recommendations will be the next part of the process, and there will be one more public meeting to be held sometime in April. Monday’s meeting was the third in the process.
“We were really pleased with the diverse group that was there,” Dunnavant said, and she wants to take all the comments and use them to build upon ideas.
Informational boards were set up showing the study area, proposed developments and improvements, highlights of the online survey results, and some proposed road improvements.
Consultants will be going through all the comments that were submitted, said Dunnavant.
It’s no surprise that complaints about downtown parking were some of the most common.
“It’s just too hard to back into traffic. They need to do something,” said one attendee. Before many of the downtown sidewalks were widened during the Streetscapes project in the early 2000s, the parking spaces were deeper and drivers could back up farther before actually being in traffic, he said.
Attendee Shirley Church thought the ideas were very focused. She was particularly interested in the area around the Depot History Center and the Caldwell Tanks facility on East Broad Street. The plan shows possibilities for future development and rehabilitation on the Caldwell Tanks site, possibly including housing, commercial, and speciality/entertainment space, as well as open space.
Another in-use former industrial site on the plan are the buildings on First Avenue, which the plan shows as potential neighborhood expansion, with new single-family homes, town homes and low-rise multifamily units.
Church said some people will probably say that their input “won’t make any difference.” But the consultants and staff “seem very receptive,” she said.
Travis Adams doesn’t live in downtown but he is interested in the area. This was his first meeting and he said he was “very impressed with what I’ve seen.” The proposals for redevelopment “would certainly be a great benefit for business.”
“I think it’s very exciting,” said Jo Avery. “Especially the green space and a lot of the mixed use” proposals, she said. “Especially around the new campus,” she said, referring to the area of the old Newnan Hospital on Jackson Street being transformed for the new home of the University of West Georgia Newnan Center. She lives near First Avenue and is also excited about possible redevelopment in that area.
“I think it’s a good plan, in general,” said Franklin McWhorter. “We’ve had plans before. They didn’t materialize,” he said. “Maybe this one will.”
“Growth is coming, we might as well plan ahead,” he said. McWhorter said he wants to keep abreast of the planning process.
For more information about the LCI study, contact Dunnavant at 770-253-2354 ext. 4, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .