A multimillion-dollar sewage treatment plant is the beginning of the explosive growth Lula hopes for during the next few years. The City Council sealed the deal when it approved a loan for more than $4 million.
Lula Mayor Milton Turner said he believes sewers are the "economic engine" that drives commercial development in any area.
Signing the loan documents Monday was a symbolic first step to allow construction of the new sewage system to begin.
"We just had to sign the loan documents before we go to bid. They will not let you go to bid unless you have money in place," Turner said.
The bidding phase, where a contractor is selected based on cost or other factors, is set for mid-August. Construction could begin in October and wrap up within a year, Turner said.
"In less than 12 months we will be operating this plant," he said.
He said the market will work to their advantage because many contractors are out of work and will be willing to tackle the project right away.
"We are building our plant for 40,000 gallons," Turner said.
But the city is leaving land available for expansion that most likely will be necessary within the next 20 years.
"As need arrives we can take this up to 2 million gallons," Turner said. "The growth is coming, and we’re planning ahead for it."
In January, the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved the request to build Hagen Creek, a 2,736-home subdivision on 1,075 acres east of Ga. 52 and north of Ga. 365 along Belton Bridge Road. The proposed community would include not only homes, but commercial space, a school and a golf course.
"That is twice the size of Lula," Turner said.
Though the development will be outside Lula’s city limits, it will use Lula’s future sewage treatment plant, Turner said.
And he thinks the extra space reserved for expansion definitely will be used by the time Hagen Creek and other proposed developments crop up during the next decade.
"That’s getting close to 2 million (gallons) not counting anything else," Turner said.
While the sewage plant is under construction, the city also will be getting a makeover. A streetscape project and a veterans park are in the works to revitalize downtown Lula.
Turner said the veterans park will include an interactive fountain and the opportunity for families to buy bricks inscribed with a soldier’s name. He said the park is not intended to be a memorial but a recognition of those in the armed services.
"We set aside $33,000 for the fountain," Turner said.
The proposed park will cost between $400,000 and $600,000 to complete and will be constructed in phases.
The streetscape will take less than a year to complete and will refurbish storefronts in downtown Lula to attract businesses to the area. At a cost of approximately $1 million to $1.5 million, it should take less than a year to complete, Turner said.
"We want to keep that hometown atmosphere."