Downtown Villa Rica photo

The Livable Centers Initiative program is for projects that are virtually identical with the goal of the “master plan” for downtown Villa Rica unveiled in June 2016.

Villa Rica received a $100,000 grant that city leaders hope will help improve the downtown area, as well as other parts of the city.

The Atlanta Regional Commission announced Thursday that the city would receive the funds under the Livable Centers Initiative, a program which, according to the ARC website, “incentivizes local jurisdictions to re-envision their communities as vibrant, walkable places.”

The city must put $25,000 as matching funds into the grant, which the City Council approved during their January meeting when the panel endorsed applying for the grant. That means the total value of the grant is $125,000.

The grant will enable the city to conduct a study for individual projects within a defined part of the city. Those projects could be funded through a pool of federal money administered by the ARC. If those projects are funded, the city would be obligated to a further 20% matching grant.

This is the second year that the city has sought the LCI grant. The city’s first attempt was denied more than a year ago.

The LCI program is for transportation projects, including streetscapes, sidewalks, and pedestrian enhancements to make visions of livable downtown environments a reality. This goal is virtually identical with the goal of the “master plan” for downtown Villa Rica, which was unveiled in June 2016.

That plan was based on a months-long survey of Villa Rica residents and envisions a downtown space that is friendly to pedestrians, luring residents and visitors alike to shops, dining, and entertainment venues.

The area in which the potential improvement projects could be constructed include the downtown area and the Fullerville neighborhood, as well as surrounding neighborhoods, parks, and public facilities.

One potential project could include the proposed Gold Nugget Trail System, a walk-bike system that is planned to encircle the city much like Carrollton’s GreenBelt. A portion of the Gold Nugget Trail would run through downtown.

Villa Rica was one of several cities within the Atlanta Region Commission to receive the grants. In all, the Commission has awarded $1.4 million in LCI grants this year.

In 2018, some 11 communities in metro Atlanta received LCI planning grants. One of them was Douglasville, which, like the rest of Douglas County, is within the jurisdiction of the ARC.

While 40% of Villa Rica’s residents live in Douglas County, most of the city is in Carroll County, which is within the territory of the Three Rivers Commission (TRC).

Yet a sliver of northern Carroll County is now within the jurisdiction of the ARC, thus, placing the the city within the geographic footprint of ARC’s transportation planning zone, making the city eligible for federal dollars.

Both the ARC and the TRC are among 12 planning agencies across the state that are charged with assisting local governments on a regional basis to coordinate growth strategies.