The city of Douglasville is moving forward with plans to renovate O'Neal Plaza.
Officials participated in a symbolic groundbreaking for the renovations on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
The update to O’Neal Plaza will include new landscaping, underground drainage and the addition of new surface and pavers to make the area more pedestrian friendly, said Michelle Wright, planning director for the city.
The fountain on the plaza will be demolished and a new one will be constructed on the Church Street side of the plaza, according to city spokeswoman Kellie Hunter.
Funds for the renovation were awarded from a $600,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Plans and discussions to renovate the space, along with discussion on funding for the project, began in December of 2015.
Council members have previously discussed how O’Neal Plaza has had flooding problems and lacked sufficient lighting. The plaza was last renovated in 2002.
The changes that will be made to the plaza will help correct the drainage problems, said Terry Miller, the lead architect for the renovations.
"The current design of the plaza is not level, and makes it difficult to control water runoff," Miller said.
Miller said that the new fountain, along with leveling out the plaza, will create a single flow of water into a center drain in the middle. This should keep water from flowing into local businesses, such as the Irish Bred Pub, when it rains heavily, he said.
"The current design of the area creates various slopes and corners that pose a trip hazard," Miller said. "By going in and surfacing the area to create a level space, those hazards will then be eliminated."
Council members approved the design for the new fountain at their meeting on Oct. 3. The design of the new fountain is modeled after similar structures located in parks around Savannah.
Miller said the new fountain will be more visible for those simply passing by. He said that the overall goal of the project is to make the plaza pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing.
Along with Miller, Nile Bolton will serve as the landscape architect for the space to determine where green spaces will be created. To ensure that the issues with drainage are fixed, the city has contracted with Haines Gibson to design and execute new plumbing within the space.
Construction on the new plaza was expected to start last week and take between six and eight months to complete.
During construction, there should be no impact to the traffic pattern in the downtown area, Hunter said. The only event that will see a change due to this construction will be the Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting, which is scheduled to take place on Friday, Dec. 2, and that will only entail the evening’s entertainment being located under the tree in front of the Douglasville Conference Center.
Jonathan Lynn, the city’s Community and Development Services director, said, “This project will continue the city of Douglasville’s efforts to not only revitalize O’Neal Plaza but enhance this important area of our central business district. The reconstruction of the plaza will provide an updated look and feel to downtown that can be enjoyed by everyone whether they are coming downtown to dine, explore, or catch our infectious vibe.”
A press release from the city of Douglasville was used in this report.