Toccoa City Commissioners will put financial support behind efforts to clean up the Highway 123 corridor within the city limits.
Monday, city commissioners voted unanimously to put aside $115,000 to help fund the Currahee Beautification Project, the name given to recently begun efforts to beautify Highway 123 through Stephens County.
Initially, the Currahee Beautification Project’s efforts are focused from the intersection of Broad Street and Currahee Street back out to the Jeanette Jamieson Intersection, with the city working on the area between the city limits near Zebulon Baptist Church and Broad Street.
Toccoa City Commissioner Terry Carter said a community meeting last month got the ball rolling and he feels that it is important the city contribute financially in order to help keep building that momentum.
“We are finally going to be able to address that area that for years we have wanted to do something with,” said Carter. “Primarily, it has been the lack of interest of the property owners to do it (that has held it back), so now that we have that, it is the best time to show our commitment.”
Carter and Commissioner Gail Fry pointed to Acree Oil’s efforts to tear down three buildings along Currahee Street, as well as the pending demolition of the old Casket Company.
Fry said that in some cases, there are property owners who want to tear down dilapidated properties, but cannot afford to do so.
Carter and Fry proposed for $42,000 to be set aside as a start for a grant program to help with that.
According to Carter, this would be similar to the facade renovation grants offered in the Main Street district, but would cover the Highway 123 area in the city limits.
“We would be able to help the property owners do work to their building or if they needed to (demolish) it,” said Carter.
In addition, the budget calls for $27,000 to be set aside for green space and $10,000 for a gateway sign.
Carter said Acree Oil has offered to lease property it is cleaning up at the corner of Broad and Currahee Street to the city to create and maintain a green space there and put a gateway sign there, similar to the one located by First Baptist Church in downtown Toccoa.
He said this is a great opportunity to make a positive impact on a major intersection in the city.
“For years, everyone has complained about the way that looks,” said Carter. “This is a way that we can, step-by-step, improve the looks on it and hopefully at the same time impact the crime and other things that seem to be in that area.”
Carter and Fry’s proposed budget for this effort also includes funding for other street signs and sidewalk repair.
The $115,000 that the city has committed to this effort will come from the Commission Reserve Account.