Ashburn ready to turn city around - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ashburn ready to turn city around

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February 21, 2007

Ashburn - - A South Georgia mayor says his town needs a makeover. He says Ashburn has too many dilapidated buildings and not enough nice, affordable places for people to live. So he called on community leaders and the state to work together to turn things around. 

The numbers may surprise you.

"Forty percent of the population of Ashburn does not own their own home. Thirty-five percent of our population earns less than the poverty level which is $15,000," says Mayor Jim Hedges. 

On top of that, Hedges says some neighborhoods in Ashburn are outdated.

"We have some areas in town where we don't have fire hydrants, we don't have sewer and some of our water lines are substandard."

Eyesores are ever-present.

The old Eureka is an abandoned school that has sat vacant for years. City leaders don't see it as a problem, they see potential.

"I'd love to see a low to moderate income multi family apartment complex put on that piece of ground. It would be ideal."

So the mayor called on city leaders, the school superintendent, builders, the chamber of commerce and representatives from the state Department of Community Affairs in Atlanta for a roundtable discussion to get things moving.

"Fantastic. I was at a meeting yesterday where the town knew they had a problem but didn't know who to bring to the room. They {Ashburn leaders} have all the stakeholders already involved here. They obviously have the will," says Glenn Misner from the D.C.A. 

Misner's office helps Georgia cities get money from the federal government. Wednesday, the community leaders learned how to make sure they stand out when applying for these competitive grants.

"What I'm seeing today is the beginning of a whole revitalization. Were not just looking at fixing one problem, were looking at fixing a whole bunch of problems, were looking at changing peoples lives and they way they live," Misner says.

So that dilapidated buildings can be put to use.

Ashburn has already hired a Community Development Director and plans to create a Downtown Development Authority.

The city is now seeking developers to help them lay out their plan.

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