Last month, city officials announced that Pickens was one of only 12 cities in the state chosen to receive funding under the Department of Commerce’s “Village Renaissance” program.
The city has been awarded a $20,000 Community Development Block Grant to pay for the planning stages of the neighborhood revitalization.
Once a plan has been created, the city could be in the running for two $500,000 grants to make the neighborhood revitalization a reality.
David Shellhorse, Economic Development Planner with the Appalachian Council of Governments, will be overseeing the project in conjunction with the city. Shellhorse spoke before council Monday night.
The neighbor revitalization plan is a five-year strategic plan that will focus on the following streets in Pickens: Catherine, Garvin, Pendleton (U.S. 178), Pendleton
Extension, Lewis, Johnson, Cedar Rock, Lee, Rigdon, Morris, Booth, Jefferson, Kevin, Birchfield, Liberty, Monroe, Patterson, Brian, Rob’s and Crumpton.
The project aims to address infrastructure and public facility needs in the targeted area, identify housing opportunities, improve the physical appearance and property values of the area, promote sustainability, walkability and conservation, Shellhorse said.
“What we’re trying to do is develop a road map and a wish list on getting this part of town up to speed and economically vibrant,” he said.
Shellhorse said Department of Commerce officials also hope such Village Renaissance projects will help neighborhood residents feel prouder of their neighborhoods and feel safer in their neighborhoods.
The city has one year to complete and present a plan to the Department of Commerce.
The city will form a task force to guide the project.
“Anyone that can give input on how we can potentially spend $1 million on the south part of town,” said City Administrator Katherine Brackett.
Open House meetings will be held later in the month so the public can get more information on the project.
The city will also gather input from residents and business owners through the City of Pickens’ Facebook page.
At the Open House meetings, attendees will be asked to fill out a survey concerning the project.
An advisory committee will help steer the project.
“We primarily want citizens and businesses of the neighborhood,” Shellhorse said. “They’re the ones who know the most about it.
“But we also want people who are very knowledgable and have expertise in the areas where we’re concerned, the engineering, the home lending, etc.”
He said he hopes to have a draft of the plan ready for council’s review in October, with the final plan due in December.
Shellhorse said the many projects the city currently has in progress, including the sidewalk repairs on Main Street and creating a Master Plan to create bike trails at Town Creek Park, will make the city more attractive to the Department of Commerce, which could help the city secure the additional $1 million in grant funding.
“You’re doing so much already,” he said.
The $20,000 requires a 20 percent match from the city.
If the Department of Commerce likes the plan presented by the city, Pickens will be invited to apply for the $500,000 grant.
Then the city could be in the running for the second $500,000 grant.
The two $500,000 grants, if awarded, would also require matches from the city.
Pickens City Council’s next meeting will be held Tuesday, January 18, in honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.