TIFTON — A request to designate South Tifton as a historic district was presented at the Aug. 5 Tifton City Council workshop meeting.
Dr. Homer Day, County Commissioner Melissa Hughes and Ambrose King presented a request for the city to look into creating a new historic district for South Tifton, similar to the district that was created 30 years ago for parts of Tifton north of Hwy 83.
Urban Redevelopment Agency director Bruce Green said that many of the homes and buildings south of 82 are the same architecturally as the ones on the north side that were included in the current historic district, but there is approximately a $2 million increase in property values on the north side of town.
“I firmly believe it’s because of the historic district designation,” Green said. He said that designating parts of South Tifton as its own distinct historic district would help preserve the distinct historic and cultural nature of the neighborhood by placing a protective covenant over the area. This covenant would make it easier for homeowners and property owners to get grants to rehabilitate and restore houses while creating a series of guidelines for what will and will not be allowed.
Council member Wes Ehlers said he was concerned that designating the area a historic district would result in some current residents being priced out of their homes due to landlords raising rent.
Green said that would be something the committee tasked with looking into this would have to study.
Water Line Woes
Bishop Tim Pratt addressed the council regarding continuous major problems with water lines and road work on Wilson and Hillcrest.
While these areas are located in the county, the repair of the water lines falls within the city’s jurisdiction.
Pratt said that there are water lines constantly breaking, which leads to standing water in the streets. Repairs to those water lines mean the street pavement is cut up and then patched, leading to bad roads. He also raised concerns about the safety of the water.
Mayor Julie Smith said that, “every citizen deserves good, clean water” and assured Pratt that permanently fixing the water system was a priority for the city.
City manager Pete Pyrzenski and Daniel Groselle with ESG explained that the ongoing water line breaks are due to two lines not being replaced when the rest of the area changed over from galvanized metal to PVC pipes.
Pyrzenski said that those two lines are on the list to be swapped out this year, but he will move the work date up so they are fixed sooner. He also said that the plan is to move the lines to the side of the road, so that future work will not require workers to cut up the pavement.
Davis Music Building Project
The council was informed that the Downtown Development Authority is in the process of purchasing the Davis Music Building, located at 325 Commerce Way and will act as the developer to rehabilitate the building and add a parking lot to the back.
The scope of work for this project has undergone several alterations. At one time the plans were to demolish the building and make it into a parking lot. Later a developer was slated to purchase the building and turn it into retail and living space. Now, the DDA is going to restore the building, which was built in 1885, and rent it out as retail and apartment spaces.
Pyrzenski said the grant money for the original project, which was granted by the Department of Community Affairs, will be returned to the DCS. He said this will not negatively affect the city’s other grant application from DCS.
Council member Frank Sayles, who sits on the DDA board, said that the DDA had many conversations about this property. He said that the DCA grant requirements would limit what they could do, so they decided against using the grant money.
The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Tifton City Hall.