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Downtown public areas upkeep may switch to Gainesville
Hall County currently owns the lot
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Vendors and shoppers meet on opening day of the Gainesville Farmers Market in May 2014.

Gainesville may soon take over upkeep of the interior part of the downtown square.

The city and Hall County are working on a 50-year agreement to turn over maintenance of the county-owned area to Gainesville. Hall owns the lot, as it was once home to the county courthouse.

The area is a park-like setting that features sidewalks, benches and a Confederate statue known as Old Joe. It’s also a venue for many city events, including the Blue Sky Concert Series and farmers market.

As part of a 2008 lease agreement with the county, United Daughters of the Confederacy maintains Old Joe. That wouldn’t change as part of the city-county agreement, which comes up for approval at the commission’s Thursday meeting.

The city agrees to keep up the rest of the area “in a scenic and well-maintained fashion in order to promote tourism and commerce in the downtown area,” the agreement states.

The county or city can decide to end the agreement on a 90-day notice.

The agreement “makes sense for us,” Gainesville spokeswoman Catiel Felts said. “That way, we’re responsible for how (the area) looks before and after an event.”

“Sometimes, in the past, we would ask (Hall) to make sure that the grass was cut or we needed to put out new pine straw, those kinds of things,” she said.

Now, “we will use our landscape contractor to do the work,” Felts said. “It will consist of weekly mowing, trash pickup, pine straw twice a year, planting of flower beds twice a year and multiple applications of fertilizer per year.”

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