People express concerns, ideas, about downtown.
By Dave Whitaker
Jan 17, 2019, 23:49
While there were many opinions given at Thursday afternoon’s hearing on the city’s urban redevelopment plan, there seemed to be one general consensus. Downtown Cochran needs redevelopment.
Thursday’s hearing was the second held by the city to gather input on developing an urban redevelopment plan. It was attended by business owners, interested citizens, as well as several city officials including council members Jon Thrower and Carla Coley, police chief Chris Coley, and city manager Richard Newbern. Representatives from the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission, who are assisting in the plan’s development, served as moderators.
One big concern expressed was regarding parking. A business owner expressed frustration at congestion caused by people who were going to the gym parking on the street in front of the gym while the other side had empty spots. Other concerns included the way spaces were designed, on-street parking availability, as well as enforcement of time limit spots.
Another problem noted was the general state of downtown Cochran. Too many abandoned buildings, some in disrepair. Not enough space for greenways. Several suggestions were made to help beautify the area including painting a mural and planting flowers downtown. The look of downtown as well as taxes and regulations were mentioned as hindrances to getting businesses downtown.
In terms of getting people to visit, a woman said she shopped regularly at the Farmer’s Market, but some vendors had stopped coming because of a lack of local support. Thrower suggested working with the chamber of commerce to host monthly events. He said they wanted to look for both short and long-term solutions, monthly events would be one that could be done right away.
Middle Georgia State University was brought up during the hearing. A woman noted how many students had to walk long distances for items, she would often give them rides. Officials plan to invite students and representatives from the university to the next hearing.
Carla Coley made a similar point in remarks made as the hearing began to wind down. She noted how downtown redevelopment in other cities such as Dublin, Perry, and Macon didn’t happen overnight, and it wouldn’t in Cochran. She added it can be done.
A third hearing will be held in the future. Feedback from the hearings, as well as surveys done by those in attendance, will be used to develop the plan. Once it’s done, the city will be eligible to apply for grants and tax breaks to help in redevelopment.
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