Ray Luce, the director of the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, presents Harlem Mayor Scott Dean with a Certified Local Government designation.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
Harlem received its first recognition for historic-preservation efforts Friday from the Georgia Historic Preservation Division.
Division Director Ray Luce presented Harlem Mayor Scott Dean with the city's official Certified Local Government designation at the Harlem Library.
City officials began preservation efforts in late 2002 by naming a Historic Preservation Commission. The commission, chaired by Ann Blalock, has surveyed and logged as historic the 270 properties that are more than 50 years old. It also contracted the University of Georgia to perform a charrette, or a quick study, that shows how Harlem could look with renovations.
Some ideas already have been implemented, including adding a mural and new paint job to the Laurel and Hardy Museum. A historic district is being established in the downtown area, and a facade ordinance requiring brick stucco or masonry finish to downtown buildings has been approved to keep the look of development consistent with Harlem's historical architecture.
"(Efforts have) to be slow so we do it right," Dean said. "We can't expect results right away. We must be patient."
The city completed renovations and additions to the more than 100-year-old library last year.
Harlem also was awarded a $300,000 Georgia Department of Transportation grant to refurbish downtown streets and sidewalk areas.
However, the city will not be receiving a $25,000 match they were hoping for from Columbia County government for facade and sign grants for business owners.
County officials decided last week against using general-fund money for private business improvements. They did say they would help the city seek outside grants for the projects.
Harlem's new certification allows the city to apply for grants provided by the federal government through the Department of Natural Resources. Though not much money, the funds often are used as seed money to solicit funds from other agencies for preservation projects.
"I have already seen changes from the charrette," said Pratt Cassity, director of UGA's College of Environment and Design Public Service and Outreach division that performed the charrette last spring.
"It is wonderful to see that kind of implementation," Cassity said. "(Development) is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because (the city) is a live and growing and people are moving here. The curse is they are doing so quickly that small towns don't have time to catch up. They are dealing with big city problems in a small town environment."
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