The proposed renovation will target a roughly one-mile stretch of LaFayette Road from the entrance to Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park to Battlefield Parkway.
Carolyn Coburn with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission will facilitate the public meeting. Coburn also serves on the Refresh Committee.
“We want to let people know what’s going on,” she said. “Nothing is set in stone. These are just ideas.”
Coburn said input from residents would help the committee gauge public opinion about potential streetscaping and revitalization efforts.
“I want to understand what about the previous plans weren’t satisfactory,” she said. “What do they think the city of Fort Oglethorpe needs, what do they think this corridor needs?”
The committee should have a master plan completed by late fall, according to Coburn. The city will use this plan as a guide for future redevelopment, she said.
The Refresh Committee was formed last year, funded in part by a $10,000 grant from the federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Original committee members include Coburn, 6th Cavalry Museum executive director Chris McKeever, Georgia Department of Economic Development and Appalachian Regional Commission state program representative James Thompson, Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division representative Janet Cochran, Chickamauga park historian Jim Ogden, Georgia Department of Community Affairs development specialist Leamon Scott, Fort Oglethorpe city council member Louis Hamm and Fort Oglethorpe Downtown Development Authority chairman Jeff Epperson.
A design team from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Office of Downtown Development previously met with committee members and Fort Oglethorpe leaders on Jan. 18 to present concrete ideas for improving LaFayette Road.
Carmine Fischetti, a designer with DCA’s local government assistance division, suggested the city tie LaFayette Road to the area’s surrounding historic resources, such as the military park and the 6th Cavalry Museum. In addition, Fischetti proposed Fort Oglethorpe beautify its downtown corridor through landscaping and by adding sidewalks, a bicycle lane and way-finding signs to local attractions and historic sites. He also recommended LaFayette Road be made more pedestrian-friendly, by narrowing the road and creating a “shopable" area that would enhance the city’s unique character.
Committee members have discussed ways LaFayette Road can draw more people, and therefore more tourist dollars, into Fort Oglethorpe. Visitors often will tour the military park but stop short of coming into the city, Epperson commented at a previous downtown development authority meeting.
Authority members are striving to promote the LaFayette Road renovation and have joined committee members in working toward an Opportunity Zone designation. To meet the requirements for an Opportunity Zone designation, the LaFayette Road corridor must be shown to be in decline or distress and in need of urban redevelopment. Once an area is designated as an Opportunity Zone then new and existing businesses located in the zone can receive up to $3,500 a year per job in state tax credits for creating two or more full-time jobs, Coburn previously said.
Committee members have considered dividing the renovation project into three phases: placing a gateway to Battlefield Parkway, enhancing the corridor’s general character and installing a gateway round-a-bout into the military park.