Lula will be adding trails at Wellness Park, purchasing more materials for the depot that will become a community center, and will be saving on loans thanks to a Georgia Department of Community Affairs award.
The Lula City Council also set qualifying dates on Monday evening for the special election to replace Councilman Vince Evans, who stepped down in August. Candidates who live in District 1 in southwest Lula can qualify for the race Jan. 7-9, and the qualifying fee is $35. The election is set for March 19.
Lula has been designated as a PlanFirst community by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The program recognizes municipalities which have developed and implemented community plans for growth.
Lula’s plan submitted to the DCA identifies several areas of anticipated growth, including Hwy. 365 and Hwy. 52. Downtown Lula is also named as an area where vacant buildings could be developed.
Since approving the plan in 2009, the city has begun planning to extend its sewer line to serve future development on Hwy. 365, with construction possibly starting later this year. The city has also passed ordinances to incentivize businesses to open downtown and to regulate events and filming, which may draw more people to the area.
The city will be able to apply for community development block grants, which can be used for infrastructure and housing improvements. Lula can also now receive a 1 percent discount on the interest rate for DCA loans and a 0.5 percent discount on loans through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
Lula is expecting to save at least $79,000 on a GEFA loan for the extended sewer line, City Manager Dennis Bergin said.
Materials for depot project
A $176,000 project will turn the old train depot in downtown Lula into a community center, and on Monday the council approved up to about $103,000 in materials for construction. That allocation includes plumbing, electricity, heating and air conditioning and flooring.
Some costs still need to be determined, including insulation and windows.
Some interior demolition work has already begun on the depot, which will also be used for some government meetings or events.
Wellness Park on Athens Street will soon be getting some updates, now that the city is adding funds to a grant from the Department of Natural Resources.
The $130,000 project will add trails to the northeast of the current park, and existing equipment will be repaired. A few other additions such as benches will be added soon.
Hall County closed the park, also known as Rafe Banks Park, in 2011 due to budget cuts. Lula agreed to lease and maintain the park.