Grantville city hall should be downtown, says DDA

By REBECCA LEFTWICH rebecca@newnan.com Relocating city hall to downtown Grantville will help the city revitalize its historical retail center, acting as a centerpiece to attract visitors and potential businesses. That's the position of Grantville Downtown Development Authority Chairman Scott Palmer, who presented research on three potential downtown sites to the city council at its March 12 meeting. Palmer was joined by Royce Bemis, who chairs the DDA's economic restructuring subcommittee.
"City hall literally defines a community," Bemis said. "If we can get city hall back into downtown, we can start developing downtown." Ideally, a downtown city hall complex would include offices for the mayor, city council members, the city manager and other officials as well as meeting rooms and council chambers. A separate justice center to house the Grantville Police Department and municipal court also is being explored by the DDA. Grantville City Hall currently is located in the Glanton Municipal Building, a former school. "It was a great school house but does not really function as appropriately as a new building that is designed for the specific purpose (of a city hall)," Palmer said. Palmer's presentation included three potential locations, including Post Street, LaGrange Street and Cedar Street, as well as a possible floor plan the DDA could use for estimating cost. Each location would require removal of buildings, but Palmer pointed to the relocation of Newnan's municipal buildings as a precedent. "Buildings which were no longer fully functioning and attractive were taken down to facilitate the new structures," he said. While council members were justifiably concerned with cost and funding of a project of that magnitude, Palmer wanted to put their minds at rest. "It is a common misconception that a new city hall would cost the taxpayers anything at all," Palmer said. "It is illegal for the DDA to encumber the city with a loan." Bemis said it's also important not to look too far out. "People don't seem to realize we're just now in the exploratory phase," he said. "We can't make any plan until we get something on paper and define what we're going to do. The key is to keep the city council and citizens informed." Bemis, Mayor Jim Sells and City Manager Johnny Williams were among a Grantville contingency that recently met with Matt Brass, a field representative for Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. Brass is helping the city find funding for its projects and pursue designations such as enterprise zone, transportation hub and trade zone. "Basically what we're doing is trying to do something to stimulate Grantville's economy," Bemis said. The council's appointment of Mark McKee to the DDA completed the seven-member body, which will attend training in April. McKee, a Grantville business owner, will be a valuable addition to the DDA, Palmer said. "He's actually the most positive person I've met in a long, long time," Palmer said. "He's very optimistic about us getting things going." The Grantville DDA will hold its next regular monthly meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Glanton Municipal Building, located at 123 LaGrange Street in Grantville.


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