Ball Ground Main Street program underway
by Michelle Babcock
March 15, 2014 04:00 AM | 2509 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eric Wilmart
Eric Wilmart
BALL GROUND — The Ball Ground City Council is moving forward with the city’s new Main Street program, taking steps toward accreditation at its meeting Thursday.

The council appointed a Main Street Board on Thursday, and Ball Ground City Manager Eric Wilmarth walked council members through the process of Georgia Main Street accreditation.

Wilmarth said Main Street districts are an industry, with a diverse and high concentration of businesses.

“Downtown is a true mixed-use,” Wilmarth told the council Thursday.

From retail and restaurants, to arts and entertainment, Wilmarth said the Main Street area will house an eclectic range of products and services.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs houses the state’s Main Street program, and Wilmarth explained how the program benefits downtown areas.

There are 96 Georgia Main Street program participants statewide, he said, which help bring new businesses, revenue and jobs to Main Street areas.

Wilmarth said one aspect of Main Street accreditation includes preserving and highlighting the historical significance of the area, and Ball Ground is already ahead in this area.

“We’re already on the National Register, and we’re continuing to do things to the downtown area now — such as our plaques and things like that, to acknowledge the historic buildings and publish a history,” he said.

The council unanimously voted to adopt the Downtown District as the city’s Main Street District, and appointed members of the Downtown Development Authority to also serve as the Main Street Board, fulfilling another aspect of the national Main Street standards.

Wilmarth said the Main Street Board would begin meeting regularly each month, and one of the first goals would be to establish vision and mission statements.

A survey will be conducted to find out what local residents and business owners would like to see in the downtown area, Wilmarth said.

The survey will gather information from residents, business owners, Realtors and consumers to help paint a picture of what Ball Ground has and what additional businesses the downtown area could support.

Mayor Rick Roberts said the survey will offer the city a chance to get “good input” and “fresh ideas” about how to improve the area and revitalize downtown Ball Ground.

As part of the Main Street program, the city will work on bring people into the downtown district by publicizing special events, and Wilmarth said this is another aspect of the Main Street program that Ball Ground is already doing.

Wilmarth said around 12,000 people came through town during basketball season to use the gym, which is located in the newly designated Main Street district.

Wilmarth gave some examples of how Ball Ground is already bringing people downtown, through events such as the Heritage Days festival, the Christmas parade and other celebrations.

Karla Weaver, who works for the city’s customer service department, was made the part-time Main Street program manager, and Wilmarth said she would report monthly figures to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, as part of the program, allowing the Georgia Main Street Program to track the progress of downtown areas throughout the state.

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