6th Cavalry Museum executive director Chris McKeever informed authority members of a proposed plan to relocate the museum to a historic building that once housed the cavalry post’s gym. McKeever said the county has allocated $350,000 of SPLOST funds to buy the building.
Should the county acquire the building, it could not lease the building to the museum because it is not a government entity, she said. Tootie’s Treasures consignment shop is there now, McKeever said. UCTV owner Judy O’Neal owns the 10,000 square-foot building, according to McKeever.
Authority chairman Jeff Epperson said it is the role of the DDA to work with the county on behalf of the museum. Since the authority comes under the city it could be considered a government entity and therefore could enter into a lease agreement with the county, Epperson reasoned. The museum could conceivably become a tenant with the authority’s support, he said.
McKeever said the museum board is planning to develop a capital campaign to raise $100,000 to repair the historic structure.
“That building has such potential,” she said.
Epperson updated authority members on a Refresh Committee meeting held Feb. 16, for the purpose of receiving public input on the LaFayette Road renovation project. Epperson said a request for proposals for a formalized urban renewal plan had been sent out.
The proposed renovation will target a roughly one-mile stretch of LaFayette Road from the entrance to Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park to Battlefield Parkway. Carolyn Coburn with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission facilitated the meeting. Coburn, who serves on the Refresh Committee, previously said the committee should have a master plan completed by late fall. The city will use this plan for future redevelopment.
The committee is also working with the community toward earning an Opportunity Zone designation. To meet the requirements for an Opportunity Zone designation, the LaFayette Road corridor must be shown to be in decline or distress and in need of urban redevelopment. Once an area is designated as an Opportunity Zone, then new and existing businesses located in the zone can receive up to $3,500 a year per job in state tax credits for creating two or more full-time jobs, Coburn previously said.
Committee members discussed dividing the renovation project into three phases: placing a gateway to Battlefield Parkway, enhancing the corridor’s general character through streetscaping and other improvements, and installing a gateway round-a-bout into the military park.
Epperson said some folks who attended the meeting voiced concerns over a recommended traffic study. Authority member Bruce Fine said a traffic study could quickly eat up the $20,000 grant allocated for the renovation plan, and suggested the city be approached about conducting a traffic count instead.
Epperson said the committee also discussed applying for additional grants to fund pre-construction preparation, such as moving utility lines.
“The thought is for the lines to go somewhere — underground or behind (businesses). It would look dramatically better,” he said.
The authority also announced it had removed Harry Patel from the authority, leaving an empty seat to fill.
Epperson explained that to be eligible to serve on the authority individuals must live in Fort Oglethorpe or own or operate a business in the Fort Oglethorpe downtown district and live in Walker or Catoosa counties. Residents or business people who are eligible and interested in serving on the DDA can pick up an application at city hall, he said. Eligible applicants must then be nominated by the authority and approved by the Fort Oglethorpe City Council.