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UGa team to take close look at Research Forest Tract
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UGa design charrette team

The design team will conduct the following three public events:

• Friday, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Public forum, introduction of charrette process and public input session at Rincon City Council chambers on West 17th Street

• Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m. — Drop-in working sessions with design team

• Sunday, 3-4 p.m. — Presentation of preliminary results, public comment and critique

A research team from the University of Georgia will be putting together a proposal for the Effingham Industrial Development Authority’s Research Forest Tract.

The University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design will send a wave of urban planners, landscape architects, historic preservationists and designers who will arrive in Effingham on Friday for three days of an intensive design session. The team will set up a design studio at the New Ebenezer Retreat Center for the weekend, with plans, drawings and ideas developed to be displayed. A final presentation will be made Sunday afternoon.

“These guys are phenomenal,” said Effingham IDA CEO John Henry. “This is a great opportunity for us.”

It’s usually a two- to three-year wait to have the charrette design team pay a visit to a community, Henry said.

In addition to public meetings and working sessions, the design team also will take a thorough look at the Research Forest Tract.

“They’ll ride the property. They’ll look at everything,” Henry said.

The size of the Research Forest Tract also intrigued the charrette team, Henry added.

“They’re looking at it as an open slate,” he said. “Eventually, it will help land planners in the future.”

Pratt Cassity, team leader and College of Environment and Design professor, said the goal of the design charrette team is to involve citizens, the IDA board and all other parties interested in the design. They also want to create a plan to help the IDA build a multi-use industrial park with recreational and commercial opportunities.

“We hope to design a place that truly fits Effingham County’s vision for its future,” Cassity said. “To do that, we need the public’s involvement and feedback.”

Said IDA Chairman Chap Bennett: “We’ve got to bring our community along with a good, well-shown plan to put in place. I think we are fully committed to bring that all together and making that happen so that at the end of the day, the Research Forest Tract gets all the attention it deserves and it becomes what it needs to be for the taxpayers.”

Once the design team has finished its work, it will produce a 25-page document and a compact disc within three months. A PowerPoint presentation will be available within two weeks of the conclusion of their visit to Effingham.

“We’re looking for something to showcase what this can become,” Bennett said.

Henry said the charrette team’s conclusions won’t be the end all and be all plan for the Research Forest Tract. But it will mean a step forward.

“This is going to be needed to be done,” he said, “sooner or later.”