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February 2020
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Tag-team efforts tackle park deficits

You will read (Pages 8A-9A) in this issue about the City of Jasper and Pickens County filing a joint grant seeking funding for a 3.4-acre park on the corner of downtown Jasper. This is a big deal for several reasons.

First, they might (hopefully) will get the potential $3 million from the Conserve Georgia grants. In case you had forgotten, this was a state voter-approved revenue allocation where some of the sales tax from sporting goods goes directly to outdoor projects. There is a required local match, but with a plan put together by the local Atlantic Coast Conservancy (ACC) using in-kind labor and private donations, it should be a bargain for the innovative park the area will get.

The phase 1 plans are not large, but they will create a showplace for our mountain views and raise the “hip” factor in the county seat.

The plans, courtesy of Robert Keller and ACC, that have been presented are well-tailored for a downtown. The park will sit at the southeast corner of town on property already owned by the city at South Main Street and Spring Street. It surrounds the former Perrow medical clinic and will be named Perrow Park to honor the family.

That area is already a greenspace which hosts a few sporadic events but it’s rough, uneven terrain with no bathroom, night lighting or anything that facilitates public gatherings. 

Giving the property some designed character should be a catalyst for the revitalization underway along Main Street with new eateries and coffee/sweet shops. 

Among the features of the park we liked the best is the grassy amphitheater. This will be a neat asset as a gathering space any time, in addition to any shows. The terraced earthen area will be a spot to hang out, meet a friend or have lunch. If you think about cool-looking towns in Georgia, the ones that win awards and keep people coming back to downtowns, they all have something unique, feature some greenspace and are surrounded by vibrant shops. Whether it’s the colossal Atlanta midtown and Piedmont Park, or a smaller Marietta with the square or Dahlonega with the neat mountain atmosphere and puzzling traffic flow, Woodstock and their amphitheater and booming shopping/dining, Saint Simons and the lighthouse or Madison and its revitalized downtown park where unused buildings formerly sat, all these places have an ambiance.

Jasper business owners have made tremendous strides with new restaurants, boutiques and shops now open, giving a fresh flow on Main Street -- small businesses leading the way.

Now, if fortune smiles on the grant application, the civic side can pull their weight by giving a touch of character to town. 

However, if the state decides our project doesn’t get the dough this year, the effort has already broken new ground in the joint city/county approach. While the two governments have worked together regularly on roads, waterlines and storm clean-ups, this marks a new chapter of them tag-teaming for recreation. Not just working together to accomplish a set task but actually combining heads and resources for an ambitious plan.

Working together the city and county can tackle this recreation deficit to benefit us all.