They come from Lithonia’s Blueprints for Successful Communities project, which wrapped up an April 2 City Council meeting.
Graduate students from Georgia Tech began working on the Lithonia Blueprints – a Georgia Conservancy growth management program – in July 2011 and focused their expertise on short-term as well as long-range plans that the city can undertake to revitalize its sleepy downtown.
Katherine Moore, Blueprints manager, told council members that the recommendations centered on ideas that would bring more businesses and residents to Lithonia.
“All of the categories are aimed at redeveloping downtown with an eye toward longevity of Lithonia in ways that respect the small-town character, which citizens have told us they love and want to keep,” Moore said. “But we also heard that the community understands that we need more people here.”
Moore said that more customers and clients are a must if the city is to grow.
The recommendations included providing small-scale, low-cost strategies that can be implemented immediately by the community, among them a Project Lithonia event, a Bike Lithonia campaign, installation of a pop-up café that provides seating and tables on Main Street, a storytelling bench, and markers at historic sites.
The second recommendation focused on revitalizing the Lithonia Plaza, the aging rambling structure in the middle of town.
Blueprints recommends demolishing the city-owned portion, reconnecting Stone Mountain Street through the Plaza, creating a community garden and farmers market, and connecting the PATH trail to downtown.
In its place could be more retail, more housing options, a new grocery store, and a new City Hall.
The final recommendation focused on creating a long-term redevelopment strategy to address future growth.
Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson said she is excited about both the short-term ideas and long-term opportunities.
“The short-term ideas are very manageable. We will meet with the community to get some feedback about the proposal.”
Former city councilwoman and lifelong Lithonia resident Barbara Lester said Blueprints had some good ideas that she would like to see come to fruition.
“Unless you can convince the citizens, you just have done another study that you’ve paid for,” she said. “Show me what you can do.”
Jackson said she can see the community getting on board because residents were involved in the process all the way. “We’ve worked with the community to come up with some of these plans,” she said.
The meeting with citizens on the recommendations will be held April 22, the start of City Week.
“We want to hear all information from the citizens,” she said.
For more information about Blueprints, visit www.georgiaconservancy.org/growth/blueprints/blueprints-communities.