By Tia Lynn Ivey
& Reann Huber
Madison’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) received the backing of Madison City Council for their Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) loan in the amount of $1.6 million, that they recently received to makeover the West Washington Gateway.
Madison City Council had a called meeting to hear from the chairman of the DDA, Ed Latham, to discuss this intergovernmental agreement.
“This is the document that enters an agreement with [the DDA] that if we don’t perform, you back us,” Latham explained to the council.
A motion was made to approve the environmental facilities agreement between the DDA and the City of Madison and authorize the mayor to sign this agreement. It was unanimously approved by the council.
“We are very thrilled the council has agreed to back the DDA with the GEFA loan,” said Latham after the meeting. “Without their backing and support, we couldn’t go forward.”
The loan will be used to transform the West Washington Gateway in Madison and to complete a special stormwater project in the city’s most deteriorated entryways.
“The federal water and sewer programs administered by GEFA assist local governments with improving their environmental infrastructure. Through the Clean Water program, affordable financing helps cities and counties improve water quality,” said GEFA Executive Director Kevin Clark. “I’d like to express appreciation to Gov. Deal, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, state Sen. Burt Jones, and state Rep. Dave Belton for their support. The state’s commitment to helping cities and counties finance infrastructure development is a main contributor to GEFA’s success.
According to Monica Callahan, director of city planning, The DDA will receive a 15-year Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) loan at an exceptionally low interest rate–.77 percent–in order to acquire the remaining eight parcels of property in the West Washington Gateway and then to clear the negative eyesores from the area and install expanded and upgraded infrastructure to facilitate future development in the City of Madison. While above ground will be fresh and clean, most of the work will be unseen underground, with the installation and replacement of piping and the creation of A wet pond to equip the area to retain more stormwater.
“The DDA is delighted because it represents a tipping point following four years of work,” said Callahan. “They’re delighted that within two years they will be able to put land without development hurtles back into the hands of the private market.”
Callahan noted that while this money is for a stormwater project, it will yield multiple benefits and accomplished purposes.
“This is a stormwater project but it’s going to be a pretty stormwater project,” said Callahan. “The goal is always to take advantage of when we can take money and get more than one benefit…This money will be used not only for stormwater, but for slum and blight clean-up, economic redevelopment, and the improvement and protection of greenspace.” Callahan anticipates the project to be in full swing by September 1, 2016.
According to GEFA, “The loan will finance the construction of green infrastructure including wet ponds to manage stormwater runoff from downtown Madison and associated land acquisition. This project will improve water quality in local streams by capturing, treating and reducing stormwater runoff and provide a source of passive recreation for the community. This facility will also serve as a new park for residents and visitors to the downtown area of the city. The DDA will pay 1 percent interest on the 15-year loan, which includes a principal forgiveness of $336,000 if all loan funds are drawn.”
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), a federal loan program administered by GEFA, provides communities throughout Georgia with low-interest loans to fund wastewater infrastructure and water pollution control projects. The DDA also just received a matching grant from local and national branches of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for a total of $5000 to be used for signal restoration of the city depot.
“Lots of good news lately,” said Callahan.