RINCON — A working group determined to enhance Rincon’s appearance has picked its focal point.
“We’re going to start with City Hall and work our way out,” said Michelle Taylor, a Rincon City Council member who spearheads the 10-member body.
A landscape architect, who has the group’s blessing, is currently devising a beautification plan for the facility at 302 S. Columbia Ave.
“Who knows how long that is going to take?” Taylor said impatiently during the group’s June 8 meeting.
City beautification has been Taylor’s primary objective since joining the city council in March 2021. She is a proponent of decorative lighting that is called for in the city’s long-range plan for Ninth Street and Fort Howard Road.
An idea for immediate improvement is hanging decorative banners on poles at select spots in the city Two poles in front of City Hall are set to be repainted soon before banners are attached to them.
“I’m also getting picnic table and a pergola for the (city) employees,” Taylor said. “I asked them if they would be interested in one and they were so excited because the break room here is a joke.”
The repainted poles will be adorned with banners featuring a logo the group approved June 8. The logo features a replication of the city’s skyline and the slogan, “Big City Feel, Country Feel.”
“We’re looking to put the slogan on T-shirts, put it on flags (in order to promote the beautification effort),” Taylor said. “... We want to get people excited about cleaning up Rincon and we want to do a campaign on that.”
In addition to Taylor, the working group includes Peggy Cowan, Mona Underwood, Kelly Duren, Eric Hills, Betty Mydell, Brenda Helmly, City Planner Jason Stewart and Rincon City Councilman Damon Rahn.
“The whole idea behind all this is that (City Manager) John (Klimm) said right out of the gate (after his 2018 hiring) that the City of Rincon really doesn’t know who they are,” said Underwood, a 45-year Rincon resident. “We got to talking about that and decided that we need to identify ourselves so that’s where the logo came in but we need to identify ourselves and then create a beautification campaign that involves citizens, corporations and businesses and identify that somehow.
“It needs to be twofold.”
Taylor said public participation is crucial.
“We want to get the people involved,” she said. “We want to say, ‘Everybody hang your flags for the Fourth of July. Everybody, you know, let’s decorate for Christmas or whatever your faith is.’ We’re trying to get the community involved like it once was years ago.”
Taylor wants to have decorative posts erected along Columbia Avenue but that might not be a realistic goal. The stretch is controlled by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
“That will take an act of God,” Taylor said.
Underwood urged patience and persistence in the matter.
“The reality is that we can get those (wooden) poles off that highway,” she said. “We’ve just got to start the process. It’s going to take awhile.”
Underwood noted that Ann R. Purcell, a Rincon resident and member of the State Transportation Board, has volunteered to assist.
More immediate beautification plans call for a municipal park to be placed adjacent to Rincon’s police and fire departments. The area on West 17th Street has a considerable amount of available green space.
Changes are also in store for Jaycee Park in front of the Rincon Library at the intersection of 17th Street and Columbia Ave.
“We’re moving that park to Patriots Park,” Taylor said.
Patriots Park is located on Patriot Way behind the Effingham YMCA.
“It’s going to be jam up,” Taylor said. “The (Jaycee Park) equipment is old and dangerous, and we’ve had to rope some off (to prevent use).”
Jaycee Park also features numerous exposed tree roots, making walking and running hazardous.
“It’s dangerous and we’re just not going to do it anymore,” Taylor said.
Jaycee Park playground items that remain in good condition, including benches, will be moved to Patriots Park. In addition, new playground equipment that handicapped children can use will also be installed at Patriots Park.
After its benches and playground equipment are removed, Jaycee Park will be transformed into Veterans Memorial Park.
“We’re going to do a campaign where people can buy bricks (featuring the names of veterans),” Taylor said.
The bricks will cost $18.
“We’ve already sold a few,” said Cowan, a 15-year Rincon resident.
Veterans Memorial Park will also feature a fountain.
“It’s going to be very, very pretty,” Taylor said. “We are going to take down the nasty (chain-link) fence. A landscape guy is working with us and it’s just going to be beautiful.
“We’re going to have sidewalks where you can go reflect and honor.”
The fence removal will make the space look more inviting to passers-by on busy Columbia Avenue.
“We just need something pretty to look at,” Cowan said.