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Braselton to use bonds to pay for 6 downtown projects
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BRASELTON — The Braselton Urban Redevelopment Authority voted last week to approve the issuance of bonds totaling $5 million to fund six planned projects in the downtown area.

The Braselton Town Council also approved the bond issuance at its meeting.

The bonds will help fund projects including the realignment of the Ga. 124/Ga. 53 intersection, the creation of a town green and amphitheater and the addition of streetscapes along two roads in town.

"This is the next series of downtown improvements that were envisioned by the citizens," said Town Manager Jennifer Dees. "They were actually the ones that the citizens wanted done first, but they’ve taken the longest to get to permitting."

The authority previously issued bonds to pay for the Braselton Police and Municipal Court Building, which opened in July 2006, and the Braselton Library, which opened in September 2006.

Together, these eight projects are part of a 20-year downtown plan that residents created in 2002.

The Town Council voted in June to reactivate the three-member redevelopment authority, which has bond-issuing authority.

In order for the authority to oversee funding for the proposed projects, the Town Council had to designate a new district in the downtown area, which it did at its June meeting.

The newly formed district is located in Jackson County and is bordered by Interstate 85 on the northern side, the city limits on the eastern side, the Hoschton city limits on the southern side and land fronting the western sides of Jesse Cronic and Piedmont roads. This excludes the Keys Crossing neighborhoods and industrial-zoned land in front of Zion Church Road.

The town will issue the bonds through Bank of America and repay them over a 15-year period at a fixed interest rate of 4.63 percent. Under the agreement, Dees said the town can choose after 10 years to refinance the loan.

The bonds will be repaid using funds received through the town’s tax allocation district, Jackson County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes, Local Option Sales Taxes, and hotel and motel taxes, as well as from the town’s reserve funds, which total over $1 million, according to Dees.

The town has $800,000 in state funds and $700,000 in Jackson County SPLOST funds to help with the Ga. 124/53 realignment, and $500,000 in state funds for one streetscape project.

Dees said the town hopes to start the bidding process in September for the realignment project, and she expects road construction to begin sometime in November or December.

The streetscape projects, which will start after the road realignment is completed, will involve building sidewalks and streetlights along Ga. 124 and from Ga. 53 to I-85.

On Monday, council members chose design firm JJ&G to develop design plans for Phase I of the town’s streetscapes project.

Braselton received a $500,000 transportation enhancement grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation to design and construct streetscapes from where Braselton’s city limits meet Hoschton’s city limits down to the Ga. 124/Ga. 53 intersection.

The town is looking to install curbs and gutters, streetlights, sidewalks and landscaping along that stretch of road. Once JJ&G finishes its proposed designs, Mayor Pat Graham said the town will hold public hearings and seek public input.

Braselton also plans to build a town green in front of the historic Braselton Brothers Store and an amphitheater, both of which will be the last projects to be done with the bonds.

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