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Oakwood on the move
Town staying busy with roads and luring businesses
Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown glances at the screen as he gives a presentation about Oakwood Tuesday morning to the South Hall Business Coalition. - photo by Tom Reed

In a soft economy, Oakwood has been moving along with road projects, downtown improvements, sewer projects and new businesses.

City Manager Stan Brown spent about 45 minutes giving updates on city efforts and activities at a meeting Tuesday of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce's South Hall Business Coalition.

He said the city has stiffened up in filling vacant City Hall positions but so far has been able to spare employees salary cuts through furlough days.

Otherwise, the city continues to grow in the number of residents, adding a new apartment complex off Winder Highway. And while some businesses have bolted because of the economy and other factors, they have been replaced by others.

"The key is to be innovative and proactive," Brown told the group packed inside City Hall. "One thing I like about Oakwood ... is we don't sit here and wait for things to happen.

"We're going to be out on the edge. We're going to try to enhance our community and make this a better place for us to live and a great legacy for our ... children and grandchildren."

Brown talked about industrial activity, including the city buying 32 acres earlier this year for a park on White Road.

The property eventually will serve as the new home of the public works department, making room in the city's old-town district as part of the Oakwood 2030 long-term vision plan.

Using grant money, the city was able to spruce up Railroad Street in front of the city park and police department. The project, featuring wide sidewalks, landscaping and crosswalks, is a foretaste of larger plans in Oakwood 2030, Brown said.

The city also is hoping to dress up entrances to the city on main corridors, including at Mundy Mill Road and Thurmon Tanner Parkway.

"We think there's an opportunity to do some very heavy landscaping and a community sign," Brown said of that intersection.

"We'd like to go with an electronic sign ... where we could have different messages that go out to the public on community events and things going on."

Construction on the final four-lane segment of Thurmon Tanner, linking Mundy Mill Road to Plainview Road, is ongoing, with completion set for Dec. 31. In addition, the city plans to spend some $200,000 in special purpose local option sales taxes on repaving short stretches of key roads this fall.

In othermatters, the city has joined with Hall County in seeking a grant to pay for tornado sirens at Oakwood Elementary School, the Hall fire station at Martin Road and Atlanta Highway, and off Martin and Winder Highway.

A tornado struck Oakwood and Lyman Hall elementary schools just after classes were dismissed on Aug. 26, 2008, causing $815,000 in damage.

Brown also talked about the South Hall city's economic impact, having a tax base largely fueled by commercial, industrial and retail dollars.

"From our point of view, it's not just about the city. It's about the community, our whole region," he said. "If we can be successful and continue to work toward economic development, we all win."