Newnan in talks to improve downtown

by Celia Shortt

This summer, Newnan is partnering with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the Georgia Cities Foundation and the Georgia Municipal Association to help bring improvements for public areas in the city.

This partnership is known as the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Fellows Program. Through this program, a University of Georgia student will work with a designated city to create proposals for public improvements.

Newnan officials were asked recently to participate in the fellows program, and this summer, Erik Lauritsen will work with the city of Newnan while he continues to study his degree in landscape architecture.

“I don’t think I have ever seen a historic downtown so beautiful or well-maintained as Newnan,” Lauritsen said. “How can you take something that is working and where economic development is on the rise and make it better?”

For Lauritsen, Newnan is the second city he will have the honor of working with. Earlier this year, Lauritsen partnered with his hometown of Conyers in Rockdale County.

Lauritsen’s work in Conyers focused on city codes and planning ordinances. Lauritsen was able to assist in the proposal of improvements, which are now being used by the city.

Lauritsen was given a list of cities to choose from in his work this summer and he chose Newnan for several reasons, one being that the small town would also help him with other life skills, like communication and meeting deadlines.

Newnan Business Development Director Hasco W Craver IV is spearheading the partnership and is working with Lauritsen to prioritize projects for the city. According to Craver, the projects he will be working on are:

• Creating a design schematic for potential enhancement of the existing LaGrange Street bridge.

• Identifying a strategy for potential redevelopment of existing downtown alleyways.

• Creating a design schematic for potential enhancement of the existing Greenville Street bridge.

• Developing a landscape plan, including the entry, for the Oak Hill Cemetery.

• Developing a master plan for the old jail facility on Madison Street.

• Developing a plan for potential locations and designs for bike racks.

“I have been given the opportunity to view a few of the preliminary ideas, and they’re wonderful,” wrote Craver in an email of Lauritsen’s work. “Mr. Lauritsen has a bright future in front of him. The city of Newnan is excited about the program and the resulting improvement plans.”

“My goal for this summer is to create fiscally responsible designs – both aesthetically pleasing and functional,” Lauritsen said.

Earlier this month he visited Newnan to meet with Craver and discuss these projects. From now until the end of the summer, he is working on a booklet that will include his designs – complete with pictures and renderings of before and after – for these projects. Once complete, he will present it to Newnan city officials.

“It’s awesome to discover the community spirit and history of Newnan,” he said. “I’ve been welcomed warmly by city officials. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a community that makes it so beautiful and enjoyable for people to want to be there.”

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