The Union Recorder

June 18, 2013

Downtown entrance improvements under development

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The City of Milledgeville anxiously awaits the final gateway project recommendations after the 10-week pilot Georgia Downtown Renaissance Fellows program concludes. The city wants more appealing signage and other improvements to draw people downtown.

Milledgeville, along with Porterdale and Gainesville, was selected last April as a candidate for services such as downtown corridor entrance design and green space planning. The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), in partnership with the Georgia Cities Foundation (GCF) and the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government, developed the program sending an undergraduate landscape architecture student from UGA's College of Environment & Design to work with each of the three pilot cities for a 10-week period during the summer of 2013.

The intern, Quynh Pham, started her Milledgeville stint May 20. Pham was selected to work with Institute of Government faculty and Milledgeville city leaders to provide technical expertise.

Pham partners weekly with the downtown development office to help design distinctive gateways into the city of Milledgeville. 

Carlee Schulte, director of Milledgeville's Main Street/Downtown Development Authority, drove the landscape architect fellow around Hancock, Wayne, Elbert, Columbia and Jefferson Streets. Pham also took photos of Baldwin County welcome signs that could use a little sprucing up.

Creating uniform city and county signage is a workable portion of the program.

Pham is also working on a downtown enrichment program, embellishing a tunnel that connects downtown businesses to parking and will analyze landscape designs to improve the appeal of street medians and other public spaces.

The pedestrian entrance leading downtown visitors from the parking deck between the Campus Theatre and Digital Bridges is being scoped out.

“We can make that look better as a pedestrian entrance,” Schulte said. “It's long term planning.”

Reviewing the design and feasibility remains a major point. The projects cost and whether or not the roads owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation would allow certain improvements must be considered.

Schulte said finding out DOT stipulations determines which corridor improvement direction the city heads toward.

“We were chosen because the City of Milledgeville takes a lot of care investing into the downtown area,” Schulte said. “They figured we'd be successful in implementing at least some of the projects and ideas she comes up with.”

Pham created sketch concepts for the catwalk over Hancock Street also. Again, this structure is DOT owned, which creates difficult hoops to meander through.

“That's an icon. Removing it would be very costly, and it's DOT owned currently. We have to look into that. We definitely want to look into the options to make it more pleasing to the eye,” Schulte said.

The city's total cost is $1,440 for the intern services. GMA and GCF, through the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership, provide the remaining financial support for the program. 

Additional improvement costs to implement the design plans attach to the process. City Manager Barry Jarrett isn't rushing the decision.

“We are going to see what (Pham) has and go from there. As Carlee said in the beginning, Milledgeville was chosen because they'd like to see someone implement the ideas proposed,” Jarrett said. “We are going to look at cost to see what we can do. That might be limited initially. We can plan for the future also.”

The city manager said downtown Milledgeville has real “calling cards” such as well-respected higher education resources. Creating attractive visuals into the area will help overall community growth.

“We feel the community of Baldwin County's growth is dependent and starts in the downtown area. That's one of the reason's we put a lot of emphasis on improving it in any way possible. If you are successful in making them pull off, you want to make a nice showing. We want to make this place very appealing and inviting,” Jarrett said. 

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