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City considering downtown historic district
Hinesville City Hall
Hinesville City Hall would be in the historic district if it is approved. - photo by File photo

The Hinesville City Council is considering establishing a historic district downtown.

Michelle Ricketson, the executive director of the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, presented information about such a district to the council Thursday. She said she was representing the Liberty County Cultural and Historic Resources committee, where she also serves because of her position. The historic district would be in the area considered a "triangle," between Gen. Screven Way, Gen. Stewart Way and Highway 84.

The historic committee looked at a 2010 survey commissioned by the City Council on historic properties. Ricketson said the survey identified 253 properties throughout the city with historic or architectural significance, and the majority are "in the core of downtown," Ricketson said.

Over the past six years, the city lost about 20 of the structures, according to Ricketson. She said the HDDA board and the historic committee hope the historic district designation will "encourage preservation" and not be "restrictive."

The designation would allow for the city and property owners to apply for grants and allow the city to monitor the historic areas, Ricketson said. Mayor Allen Brown asked her to bring more information to the council.

GEFA loan

The council approved a modification to a current loan with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. Kimberly Ryon, the city’s chief financial officer, gave the council background on the loan.

"In February of 2014, we came before this body and got authorization to get a $10 million loan from GEFA," Ryon said. "And that was for the upgrades for the wastewater treatment facility out on Fort Stewart."

She said that in getting the original GEFA loan, there was an understanding that the city would later ask to modify it for more money for rest of the project. The total loan will now be $22.4 million at an interest rate of 1.4 percent. Originally, the loan was estimated to be a total of $23 million, Ryon said.

The GEFA loan will be for 20 years, and Fort Stewart will pay 53 percent of the debt to the city after the Army modifies its contract with Hinesville, according to Ryon.

School supply grant

The HDDA was approved to submit three grants to the Wal-Mart Foundation’s Community Grant Program for funds to buy backpacks containing school supplies that will distributed during a 2016 Back to School Night at the Farmers Market.

Last year, HDDA distributed more than 120 bags within an hour, according to Erica Usher, grant writer in the Community Development Department. HDDA hopes to distribute about 300 backpacks with supplies this year.

The total of all three grants will be $3,000 for 100 bags. The money will come from the two Hinesville Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets and the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

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