***Update 1/6/2016: Due to some issues with cost and logistics, the project has to be re-worked and rebid for construction. The project will start later in the year.
Way back in the later winter we brought you the story of the planning efforts for a new streetscape and upgrades to the Downtown Welcome Center and O’Neal Plaza. Today, we got our first look at the plans for the renovated O’Neal plaza and we were very impressed. For copyright purposes since we don’t own the plans, we can’t share the pics with you, but we will break down what’s in store. Here’s what we learned as we poured over the construction documents and what it means for the future in Downtown Douglasville:
The Fountain: We admit that even we were surprised that the iconic step fountain that has faced Hwy 78 for years has been noticeably off for quite sometime. Even during the big events this year such as the Taste of Douglasville, Battle of the Bands, Wednesday Night Wind Down…the fountain remained off. We learned from a great source (our wonderful Douglasville history expert Lisa Land Cooper) back in August that the fountain plumbing was actually damaged. In the plans we just viewed, we can see why efforts were not made to fix it. A new fountain will be constructed on the opposite end of O’Neal Plaza facing Church St. The design is really nice and will be a huge addition to the plaza, and will be one all residents of the city will be proud of.
The Grand Entrance: This is something I’m particularly proud of and excited to see. Where the current fountain is now will be reconstructed as a grand entrance with a few steps up into the plaza. This will be from Hwy 78. The steps around it will be heavily landscaped with new trees and banner lighting. It will really open up the plaza to events and be the focal point to visitors to come see the plaza as they exit the Welcome Center.
Open Space: One of the features of the new design will be a more open space for such events as Taste of Douglasville and the Chili cookoff. The trees will be replanted more to the sides around City Hall, Irish Bred Pub and the Welcome Center. The Stage that was just constructed a few years ago will remain, but a new concrete design around the stage area will let events around it accommodate more people and let attendees be closer to the action. The step feature will be reconstructed around the stage area, but closer to the actual stage. There will also be more landscaping around the area to kind of court off the stage from the rest of the plaza.
One more thing to note, the Welcome Center is also in the plans to receive an upgrade. Mostly upgrading the current conditions of the welcome center to more modern standards. This project and the welcome center are also part of a larger project to improve the streetscape along Broad St, though that part of the project is longer from starting mainly tied to the completion of the the Hwy 92 Relocation project. We’re excited to see the new O’Neal Plaza and we here at the Menu believe you will be too. Construction is set to begin within the coming month, we will let you know if that changes.