Writer: Charles Oliver
Published February 4, 2019
For almost a year, experts from the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute have been crunching the numbers and interviewing local residents and business owners, developing a master plan to revitalize downtown Dalton.
On Tuesday, at 6 p.m. at Stage 123 at 123 W. Gordon St., that plan will be unveiled.
George Woodward, who was interim director of the Downtown Dalton Development Authority (DDDA) for most of that time and helped shape the plan, said the study is very comprehensive.
"It addresses what things can be done immediately to improve the looks of downtown, what things can be done longer term to improve the walkability and finally what we can do as a community to put in more development tools and financial assistance to be able to develop downtown into a destination," Woodward said.
Dalton and Savannah were selected last year as the two cities that took part in the Renaissance Strategic Visioning and Planning Process (RSVP), a collaboration between the Carl Vinson Institute of the University of Georgia, the Georgia Municipal Association and the Georgia Cities Foundation to help cities come up with master plans to revitalize their downtown areas.
Woodward, who is still the DDDA master plan liaison, said the meeting is open to downtown business and property owners and anyone else interested in the future of downtown Dalton.
The plan was developed in cooperation with Believe Greater Dalton, a joint public-private partnership aimed at implementing a five-year strategic plan for Dalton and Whitfield County.
"I believe the community is going to be overwhelmed with the amount of work and detail that has been out into this plan," said Allyson Coker, project manager for Believe Greater Dalton.
The plan is about 200 pages.
"It has some phenomenal recommendations for what our downtown has the potential to look like and feel like," Coker said. "But it is just a plan, and these are just recommendations. Nothing is set in stone. It's out role to take this plan and see what is achievable."
Officials don't want to give away too much before Tuesday's presentation, but DDDA board Chairman JaneMarie Wilson said one of its key findings is the need for more housing in downtown.
"Young people want to be able to live and work and shop in the same area," she said. "They want to be able to walk from where they live to where they eat and where they play."
Believe Greater Dalton and the Downtown Dalton Development Authority invite the public to the unveiling of the Downtown Master Plan created by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Stage 123 at 123 Gordon St. in downtown Dalton.