by Jessica Loeding
The Daily Tribune News

With October’s bluegrass festival coming in about two months, Cartersville is working quickly to complete a covered pavilion downtown.

Gary Lipscomb works high off the ground Thursday morning on the covered pavilion the City of Cartersville Public Works Department is building at Friendship Plaza. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News

Gary Lipscomb works high off the ground Thursday morning on the covered pavilion the City of Cartersville Public Works Department is building at Friendship Plaza. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News

Construction on the project began about three weeks ago, and is expected to be complete in six to eight weeks.

“Making sure the pavilion is finished by the time the Bluegrass Festival rolls around is a top priority for the DDA,” said Downtown Development Authority Manager Lillie Read. “Once completed, it will offer a larger performance area, lights, electricity and protection from the elements, which are significant improvements over the last stage. Beyond that, there is the practical benefit of not having a rent a tent for each new special event, which means that the pavilion can work in conjunction not only with the Bluegrass Festival, but with a variety of local events as well.”

The facility is being constructed using city forces and Business Improvement District funds.

“This is from the Business Improvement District. The taxpayers downtown and their district have agreed to pay and fund the construction of this project out of those property tax dollars,” Cartersville Finance Director Dan Porta said. “The expected using city forces is around $40,000. We actually had some bids come in and it was going to be in the neighborhood of $65,000, and so that was over the budget.”

Although the benefits of the pavilion “can be hard to quantify,” Read hopes the impact will be “positive and enduring.”

“Every project that the DDA undertakes is designed with the end goal of providing a benefit for downtown, and the pavilion is no exception. Not only will the new structure improve the appearance of Friendship Plaza, it will provide a protected space that can be utilized in a variety of ways. From fashion shows to impromptu jam sessions, we would like the pavilion to be a resource and a gathering space for the entire community,” she said. “… The amenities incorporated into this structure mean that the DDA, as well as other organizations, can be more flexible with ways in which they use it. In addition to planned events, more casual use of the pavilion will be encouraged.”

Read, who is “excited” about the structure and the options it brings to downtown, said the word on the street has been welcoming.

“The feedback has been positive, which I attribute to business owners who recognize the value of having an attractive and useful community space in their commercial core. This type of structure, while unassuming, invites people to make use of it and draws them downtown in the process,” she said. “In fact, the DDA welcomes any business that wants to talk about collaborating to make use of this new facility.”

For more information about the DDA or upcoming events, call the DDA at 770-607-3480 or visit http://downtowncartersville.org/.