Summerville to get grant for downtown face-lift

Summerville to get grant for downtown face-lift

April 8th, 2011 by Adam Crisp in News

Downtown Summerville, Ga., will get a $500,000 makeover that will link several key historic elements in the Chattooga County seat.

The project is being funded through an Enhancement Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, according to the department and state Rep. Barbara Massey-Reece, D-Menlo.

City leaders say the effort is meant to draw more pedestrians downtown by making the area more attractive and easier to navigate.

"Our thought when we applied for the grant was that it was an economic development project," City Manager Russell Thompson said. "We thought we could foster some growth if we made downtown more attractive."

The Summerville Streetscape project will improve the transportation and pedestrian infrastructure through the heart of downtown by tying together various historic sites, according to a GDOT news release.

The improved downtown will provide a link among four of the city's most notable historic landmarks: the Summerville Railroad Depot, the Summerville Railroad Turntable, the Couey House and the Chattooga County Courthouse. Project elements will include new sidewalks, handicapped accessibility, new street planters, landscaping and period street lighting.

Previous transportation department projects restored the historic Summerville Depot and the train turntable.

"Some of our conceptualizations may change, and I anticipate that we'll have a community group to help guide us through the details," Thompson said.

Originally the city requested $800,000, so the decrease in funding may influence how many street blocks the city beautifies, Thompson said.

The projects are requested by the city, but legislators play a large role in deciding which city gets the money, Thompson said.

"I am delighted to assist both the City of Summerville and Chattooga County," Rep. Massey-Reece said. "Summerville's commitment to further economic development opportunities by restoring and marketing its unique historic elements will boost the tourism experience and enhance the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's steam-engine excursions into the city."

Work on the project won't begin immediately. Thompson said the city must follow GDOT process, which requires several studies and reviews before work can begin.