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Gillsville buys downtown land, hopes to build city hall
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Gillsville Mayor Roy Turpin shows a part of the land the city of Gillsville is closing on in the downtown area on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. The city also annexed about 200 acres of residential and agricultural land last year, with people requesting to have their homes added in to the city. - photo by Austin Steele

Gillsville is outgrowing its City Hall, and the city purchased about three acres of downtown land for the building on Wednesday.

The next step is finding the funding.

“A new city hall and a storage building will help this town tremendously,” Mayor Roy Turpin said.

The city bought the land from local salon owner Jeanne Webb for $60,000 and has been working with the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission to look at grant or loan options for a new city hall, Turpin said. This would free up the current City Hall space so the city could lease it, and Turpin said he has already been approached by business owners looking to move in.

“We already have people that want to rent it whenever we can get out of it, but several things will have to come together before we can do that,” Turpin said.

The one-room city hall is lined with bookshelves and also serves as a community library.

Turpin hopes the new city hall could have a restroom and a secure file storage space.

For now, the land purchased Wednesday will be used for additional downtown parking.

“We have a great need around lunchtime for a lot of parking. … It will give us a lot more space,” Turpin said.

The land connects to another approximately 5-acre property the city already owned, which was donated by Dollar General after the company opened a store in Gillsville and had extra land, Turpin said.

City Hall is next door to a former general store that Turpin said community artists want to convert to a pottery museum.

In 2018, about 200 acres of residential and agricultural land was annexed into Gillsville, with residents approaching the city about being annexed in. Turpin estimates the population of the city on the Banks and Hall County line is now about 360, compared to the 2010 Census number of 235. He is awaiting the 2020 Census.

But Turpin said he has the goal of reaching 600 people in Gillsville, a number that he thinks could help the city secure funding.

“I think if the town can get 600 people, then we can get enough funding from Banks County and Hall County to actually not have to worry about not having enough money,” he said.

Turpin said the population is expected to grow more in 2019. The city has already received five requests for annexation from homeowners, four in Banks County and one in Hall.

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