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DDA cleans up after storm, looks for grant money

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DDA cleans up after storm, looks for grant money

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DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT

Members of the Gray Downtown Development Authority discussed challenges of dealing with Mother Nature and funding for future projects at their August meeting.

The Aug. 13 meeting was called to order by chairman Sheri Rollins, who reported about a problems that occurred when the drains stopped up and rental properties owned by the DDA at 119 and 121 W. Clinton Streets flooded.

Rollins said she called the city when she got the report of the stopped-up drains.

“The city was awesome to work with,” she said.

The chairman said the drains were cleaned out and the offices were cleaned up. She said subsequent rainfalls have not caused any additional issues.

Rollins asked the DDA to pay the electric bills for affected tenants because of the equipment and fans needed to dry out the buildings, and the board members agreed.

DDA member Bert King did suggest the tenants understand it was up to them to purchase content insurance.

Old business

Rollins said she was still trying to contact officials at Norfolk Southern to continue the conversation about the acquisition of the Gray Station Depot.

DDA member Vicki Ethridge reported that she had been contacted by an individual in possession of extensive train paraphernalia and artifacts. She said the individual was interested in donating the collection to Gray.

Ethridge asked if the DDA was interested in receiving the collection, and the consensus was yes.

Rollins said she was getting prices for the grassing of the Haskins Furniture footprint with the target of grassing the area in September.

New business

Kimberly Lowe with the Middle Georgia Regional Commission spoke about the grants offered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and USDA. She said rural development grants were started to help downtown businesses.

Lowe said the city needed to have a strategic plan in place that addressed the city’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. She said the plan needs approval before the application is submitted.

Lowe presented a strategic plan to the board that she had developed with Main Street Manager Haley Watson. She said the corridor covered in the plan was Clinton Street, and the main focus was expanding downtown.

The plan was accepted by DDA members with a unanimous vote.

DCA Region Six Representative Tonya Mole talked about funding options for the Butler’s Garage project. She said the revolving loan fund had a maximum of $250,000 and required a business plan.

Mole also mentioned the Georgia Cities Foundation that can lend up to $250,000, and she said both have low interest rates. The representative said some communities have received both loans to finance a single project.

She suggested an initial project assessment to begin the process.

Rollins said it had been agreed by the board that the need was for a community center, and she would begin work on a business plan.

The next DDA meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m., Sept. 10.