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Town Green, Municipal Building, Walkability--Hallmarks of New Plan for Watkinsville

Attendees want any decision about the courthouse to come after much discussion and planning.

The municipal building
The municipal building
Instead of building a new $25 million courthouse in a pasture away from downtown Watkinsville, why not invest in a town instead of a building? Why not have a master plan before spending $25 million of taxpayer money?

Those are the questions posed, repeatedly, by Oconee County native and architect Robert Smith during a Wednesday night "visioning" session at Watkinsville Community Center. It's the question echoed by many of the 100 or so people who sat through a 45-minute presentation Smith made on his new plan for how Watkinsville should develop.

Instead of building a courthouse in a pasture, he proposed, why not build a municipal building near the present Oconee County Board of Education building on School Street? The municipal building would be at the end of a Town Green extending from the current Courthouse.

Smith talked about the success and beauty of nearby Madison. The lively little city has a downtown development authority, residents living downtown in lofts and an attractive, walkable downtown. People are able to live, well, downtown.

"We're not Madison, but we could aspire to that," Smith said. "It could be so great for our little town."

He called the Wednesday presentation "the beginning of a discussion." He encouraged attendees to talk to their neighbors, the County Commission and the City Council members about the plan and its components.

Watkinsville City Council member Brian Brodrick echoed Smith's remarks, saying, "We needs venues to have these conversations."

The entire plan can be found by clicking here. Smith is a Georgia Tech architecture graduate who did graduate work at Notre Dame. If Oconee County had paid for his plan, it would have cost $150 to $200,000. At it is, he started the plan as his Master's thesis, so for his hometown, it's priceless.
Michelle Golden February 02, 2014 at 06:54 PM
This proposal was great & this plan is just what we need.

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