Pelahatchie getting Renovated - 03:06 PM - September , 2009
Stylish renovations will modernize focal buildings in downtown Pelahatchie, but none of the renovations will compromise the small town spirit, officials say.
About $2.7 million worth of projects are under way in the city. Included on the list is a community center, a revamped town hall, ample landscaping along the town's main drag and a bike path linking downtown to Pelahatchie Lake.
The renovations of town hall and the community center as well as the landscaping are expected to be finished next summer. The bike path, now in the right-a-way acquisition phase, is expected to be started next summer.
The community center, to be located in the former Bryant's Hardware Store at the corner of Brooks and Second streets, will be home to a stage complete with audio equipment.
The town formerly used the old volunteer fire department, now part of the renovated library, for meeting space. Pelahatchie Mayor Knox Ross said the new space will be larger.
"Currently, other than church fellowship halls, there is no large meeting space available for receptions, reunions, continuing education, business meetings, etc.," Ross said. "The former space, as limited as it was, was heavily utilized. I can see high school reunions and other meetings here now that have just not been possible before."
The handicap access to town hall is being improved, and the second-floor is being redesigned into a larger board room.
Historical elements already existing in the buildings will be kept to maintain history. Tin recovered from Bryant's is making its way into the lobby of the future community center. The town's old jail, found in town hall, will still keep it cell-like look.
U.S. 80, called Second Street in town, is tapped for heavy "streetscape" improvements. Streetscape improvements include new sidewalks, crosswalks and landscaping - all measures to beautify the town and make it more pedestrian friendly.
More trees will be planted downtown, crosswalks will be scored concrete. At the intersections of Second and Brooks streets, the four-way stop, the street will have a design in it that boasts the town's logo.
The whole point of this is an overall strategy to enhance the walkability and attractiveness of the town," the mayor said. "We believe that we must give people a reason to live here and this serves to enhance our attractiveness.
"We are also trying to preserve the core of our town and modify our zoning to encourage infill development in and around the core. This enhancement process makes it more attractive to develop in the core and discourages future sprawl."
These projects are not the first the town has completed in recent years. In 2008, the library was moved to a larger, renovated building, and a house was fixed up and made into a Town Museum.
Earlier this year, the town got its wireless Internet up and running. Ten transmitters beam the broadband in different sections of town, including downtown and the schools' campuses.
The mayor got the idea from Rankin First Economic Development Authority Executive Director Tom Troxler.
"I knew Knox was a progressive and aggressive mayor and doing all sorts of good things in Pelahatchie. it was just a matter of time to find the vehicle," Troxler said. "I thought it would separate Pelahatchie from most of the cities in America."
More projects are in the works, too. Leaders want to "streetscape" Goforth Street, which is bordered by Muscadine Park. Ross also said the conversion of the former library into a Masonic table lodge is in progress.
(From article in Rankin Ledger by Justin Fritscher)
Bold dates denote events.