Dalton would be a much greener city, with two large new parks, under plans presented to the City Council Monday night.
Interns from the University of Georgia’s Archway program and the Savannah College of Art and Design have spent the past three weeks looking at ways to revitalize downtown Dalton and the Crown Mill area and make them more inviting to young people. They presented their plans to the City Council Monday.
Dalton resident Hallie Mansfield described the plans as “brilliant.”
“There are more greenspaces, more places to take your children. The park off Tibbs Road is very well used. If you have more parks that are easily accessible, I think they’ll be used well, too,” she said.
The plans for the Crown Mill area focus on a central park that would feature an amphitheater, a butterfly house and an agricultural co-operative where residents can grow their own food.
Cameron Yates, one of the interns who put the plan together, said the site would also contain an art center where Dalton residents could take art classes and where local artists could display their works.
The interns dubbed the second, larger park, the Manly Jail Works Park, and it would lie next to the historic jail works between Glenwood Avenue and the railroad tracks.
Plans for that park include restoring a large pond that once stood there and creating a skate park and pedestrian plaza, a playground area for children and plenty of greenspace.
They said that they also looked at changing Glenwood Avenue from four lanes to two lanes and a turning lane. They said that would actually increase traffic flow and also allow the city to create parallel parking along Glenwood.
The interns also fleshed out some ideas for Crawford Street that had already been developed by city officials.
Specifically, they looked at plans to create an outdoor mall in the middle of Crawford Street stretching from Harmon Field where the Dalton High Catamounts play football to downtown and beyond to a proposed new park just east of the railroad tracks.
Their plans call for that median to actually serve as a “linear park” that can be used as a farmers market on weekends as well as a place for people to sit and meet during the rest of the week.
They also proposed that the top level of the parking deck at the end of Crawford Street be turned into a “green roof” covered with vegetation, and for a pedestrian bridge to extend from the parking deck over the railroads to a planned linear park along Glenwood Avenue.
But this idea proved to be the most controversial, with several people who work downtown saying they feared the loss of parking places that would happen if Crawford Street were changed.
“Parking is a lifeline. I told one of the young gentlemen who did the plan that I appreciate their hard work. I think it’s wonderful, and I’m all for beautification,” said Melba Gallegly of the Studio 312 hair salon. “But taking away parking will take away businesses downtown. I don’t see how you can bring people downtown if you don’t have businesses.”
She and others from that hair salon said they would like to see a smaller median, like the one in front of the Wink Theatre. That would improve the look of the area while actually adding parking places.
Mayor David Pennington described the plans as a “20-year” goal and said the first area the council members would start to work on would be the Crown Mill area. He said they can use funds the city receives from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for work in the Crown Mill area because it has been designated as needing rehabilitation.