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Grovetown set to approve development plan

Posted: April 7, 2012 - 11:01pm

Did you know that the city of Grovetown once was the site of a bustling train station, with regular passenger service bringing Augusta residents out to the country for a respite from the city’s hot, humid summers by the river?

And did you know Grovetown’s train depot originally included a Dutch-style windmill?

Wind power is all the rage these days, especially for advocates of “green” energy. But long before there was the electrical grid that we now take for granted, far-flung areas used windmills to pump water. That’s what city officials and historians believe the depot windmill was used for.

The four-bladed windmill and its supporting structure were removed from the train station at some unrecorded time, likely once electricity made it to the city. And then a different kind of “progress” led city officials more than three decades ago to also tear down the old depot – to the deep regret of historians then, and city planners now.

But what’s old is new again, and city officials symbolically want to rebuild the depot – windmill and all.

That’s just a tiny nugget among the more far-reaching ideas included in city plans expected to be set in motion Monday by the Grovetown city council. The Urban Redevelopment Plan doesn’t really focus on such specifics, but is more of a long-range, big-picture game plan for what city officials would like to see Grovetown one day become.

City Councilman Sonny McDowell has been the plan’s champion, and deserves much of the credit for moving it forward.

The ideas are a combination of improving what’s good, and removing what’s bad. Creating a true city “downtown,” while accepting the reality of train tracks that bisect the city, is part of the good; identifying and pushing for removal of dilapidated buildings, including trailers, will help get rid of the bad.

There’s no spending attached yet, and a lot of speculation involved. But it’s a lot more forward-thinking than were the city officials who tore down the depot years ago, and that’s a good place to start rebuilding.

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