Downtown Lanett streetscape project nearing completion

Published 8:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

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LANETT — Weather permitting, the downtown Lanett streetscape project should be completed this summer. This revitalization effort has taken place over several years. The first phase was to have the streetscape look along North Lanier Avenue to Cherry Drive. With it comes wider sidewalks, decorative lighting, benches, planter areas and lots of trees along the streets. The second phase is from Gilmer Avenue (Highway 29) to Eighth Avenue near W.O. Lance Elementary School and Veterans Park. Work is nearing completion on this phase.

“Chris Clark Grading & Paving is doing the work right now,” said Mayor Jamie Heard. “Hopefully he can finish his part over the next several weeks. Ponder’s Nursery will follow with some landscaping work.”

The work that’s been done looks good, provides some inviting places to walk or go jogging and has brought about an unexpected benefit – it’s really helped with drainage.

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“I am really pleased we are seeing this through,” Mayor Heard said.

Much of the funding has come through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The city has also put up its share. Chambers County has provided some help along the way as well.

The city is now looking at the possibility of having a public park along the Chattahoochee River. Not many towns have a resource like a river running through it, like West Point, or beside it, like Lanett and Valley.

Lanett’s side of the river is in a location where two states, two cities and three counties come together. This exact spot would be a good location for a riverside gazebo. Should its understory be cleared away, the historic Reed Pecan Grove would make a nice grassy spot to go picnicking, walking and enjoying the outdoors.

On the West Point side, a riverside trail would allow visitors to see remnants of the 1839 Horace King covered bridge, the first structure to cross the river in West Point. It was burned the day after the 1865 Battle of West Point. It was replaced by another covered bridge that washed away in the 1886 flood.

There are some large boulders along the river that are imbedded with huge iron hooks. This was part of a post-Civil War barge system.

Mule teams would pull barges upstream to a dock near the present location of West Point City Hall, where finished goods from Langdale and Riverdale mills could be offloaded and transported by carts to be loaded onto trains where they could be sent to distant markets.

There were some design changes in the original streetscape plan for First Street. The changes allow for parking for downtown stores and along the playground across from W.O. Lance Elementary.

The stores benefitted are Jackie’s Beauty Shop and Los Primos Supermarket, which appeals to the local area’s growing Hispanic population.