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Dec. 14 - $20 million project will create lake reservoir, creekfront development and flood control for Statesboro

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

December 14, 2018 - Plans were announced this week for a $20 million project that will create a lake reservoir in Statesboro and shape the future of the Blue Mile, the city’s gateway to downtown from Georgia Southern University.

The project, known as “Creek on the Blue Mile,” will transform a drainage canal into a linear park and creekfront development through a public/private partnership. The area will be developed for entertainment, shopping, living and recreation opportunities along the creek as it intersects with South Main Street, adjacent to Shug’s on Main and the Baymont Hotel.

The existing canal under South Main will be reconfigured into a wide, shallow creek with broad pedestrian boulevards and multi-story commercial, residential and entertainment venues on each side. The creek will wind to the southern section of Fair Road Park where a small amphitheater is being considered.

The 25-acre lake will be created off South College Street to alleviate flooding and control runoff while providing a reservoir for the city. Plans include nature trails, fishing, kayaking and a pavilion with an adjoining playground.  Approximately 75 acres in and around downtown Statesboro are expected to be removed from the 100-year floodplain once the project is completed.

Local officials, who stressed property taxes would not be used to fund any aspect of the project, estimate the Creek on the Blue Mile could generate up to 750 new jobs and expand the existing tax base to more than $100 million in the planned area of development.

Funding for the lake reservoir will be provided by the State of Georgia through a special budget allocation made possible by Gov. Nathan Deal. The new creek will be funded with designated stormwater funds already being collected by the city. State bonds specifically earmarked for city stormwater improvements will also be utilized.

The new linear park will be funded by the sale of creekfront lots to business owners, investors and residential developers. Additional support will be provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation and local funding sources including the Blue Mile Foundation, the Development Authority of Bulloch County and the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority.

A local delegation, led by Statesboro resident Andy Burns, was inspired by a similar project in Frederick, MD. Burns and members of the newly-created Creek on the Blue Mile Commission have volunteered thousands of manhours to make the project a reality.

Members of the Commission include Trip Addison, Billy Allen, Frank D’Archangelo, Jason Boyles, Darron Burnette, Burns, Donald Chavers, Becky Davis, Keely Fennell, Jenny Foss, Jamie Grady, Billy Hickman, Doug Lambert, Todd Manack, Laura Marsh, Allen Muldrew, Dawn Oliver, Phyllis Thompson, Rob Whitaker and Jeff Yawn.

For more info, visit www.creekonthebluemile.com.

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