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Posted: April 29, 2014 8:30 p.m.

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What’s your curb’s appeal?

Social Circle looks to improve city’s looks in project and workshop

Submitted Photo/

Elaine and Madeline Burgess conduct the "Curb Appeal" Workshop at Welcome Center. The two are assisted by Lynn Mills with support from Flower Mills.

Residents of, and travelers passing through, Social Circle will soon notice an improvement in the visual appeal of the historic city, while still retaining its small-town splendor.

Elaine Burress, “master gardener,” and Lynn Mills, landscape architect and designer, ran the first in a series of “Curb Appeal” workshops aimed to help Social Circle residents better understand the economic benefits of having an aesthetically appealing property and the ways to accomplish this goal on a budget. The event took place Saturday, April 26 at 10 a.m. in the Social Circle Welcome Center.

Plants and flowers were donated to those who attended, which, according to Tom Brown, president of the Social Circle Historic Preservation Commission, included about a dozen residents.

Brown said the number of participants was not an indication of success or failure of the project.

“For a first workshop, it went great,” Brown said. “It dealt with ways to show property owners, in a very simple and inexpensive way, how they could improve the curb appeal of their property, meaning the front yard.”

Brown, who spurred the birth of this and its umbrella project, the Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan, said discussions included yard maintenance, mowing practices and how to add plants and flowers to enhance how a property looks.

The project also accounted for residents who are unable to perform renovations due to financial or health reasons, establishing volunteers to help in these situations.

“I travel a good bit in local towns,” Brown said, “and when you drive into a town you know once you get there, there’s some type of work going on there to make the town look really nice. It’s not an accident. It’s a deliberate plan. I thought we could do that here.”

The Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan started several months ago, Brown said. According to a drafted plan, the city was divided into five corridors: South Cherokee Road, North Cherokee Road, East Hightower Trail, West Hightower Trail and Alcova Drive.

Brown said work will be segmented to one corridor at a time, with the stretch from the downtown traffic light to the city limits on South Cherokee Road designated as the test area. A letter was sent to all property owners, both residential and commercial, letting them know of the project and asking them to voluntarily participate. A notification of the workshop was also included in the past two city newsletters, as well as through a mailed and emailed flyer.

“It’s far more comprehensive that anything we’ve done so far,” Brown said.

Improvements to be made include gateway signage at the entrances to the city along with the renovations of properties willing to participate. Brown said funding for the project will come from Social Circle Main Street program.

“We will see visible changes this spring and summer on the test corridor,” Brown said. “Once we see how it looks and learn from what works, we can begin working on the other corridors this fall. We’re going to concentrate a lot of time and effort on this test corridor first.”

So far, postage for mailing flyers has been the only cost incurred by the project, Brown said. Additional and more costly funding will come into play when the city entrance signs are tackled.

“Even if it takes years,” Brown said, “you’ve gotta start somewhere.”

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