Creative placemaking? What’s that about? These were the questions we had when asked by Jackson Mayor Kay Pippin to serve on a team to explore the need for such a project for the city of Jackson. Members of Team Jackson are Pippin, Tim Broyles, Mayor-Elect Carlos Duffey, Zach Sowell, John Parish, Byrd Garland, David Akins, Brittany Brown, Melinda McLarnon, Lisa Durden, and Teri Galardi. Over the past few months, we have learned about this initiative and what it can mean for Jackson and Butts County.
The Georgia Cities Foundation facilitates the Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaborative, which is a two-year place-based economic development program that provides participating communities with education, facilitation, technical assistance, networking, peer learning, and incentives to help identify their community assets and develop a locally based placemaking strategy (https://www.georgiacitiesfoundation.org/Programs-Services/The-Georgia-Placemaking-Collaborative.aspx) .
This place-based economic development project allows our community to use a bottom-up approach that encourages collaboration to identify a need and offer solutions for improvements that will enhance the community and have a positive economic impact for Jackson and Butts County.
What community need did our team discover? The need for a playground for small children in the city of Jackson. So, we proposed to create a place named The Park on Oak, a city park with playground and walking track around the playground for adults and children to use and enjoy.
The project will use an existing asset (a city-owned lot at the corner of Oak Street and First Street) to create a sense of place and identity for local residents and visitors to explore and enjoy. This location has lots of potential for activities, including:
• Walking or biking distance from the square for locals and visitors,
• Close proximity to local churches,
• Walking distance for neighborhood children and adults who may not be able to drive to other parks within the county,
• A location for community art projects,
• Improve community livability for citizens,
• Conserving green space within the city, and
• A short walking track near local medical facilities that their patients could use for physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Butts County is “Georgia’s Outdoor Capital,” and The Park on Oak will be another marketing tool to attract visitors and support economic development in the city of Jackson and Butts County.