Craig Guyton, a city council member, described the mill as a project that Euharlee and its citizens had wanted to work on for "years and years." However, the city had never followed through with plans to rebuild the mill, or even repair the remaining foundations, because of a lack of funds. There also was a question, Guyton said, of what to do with the mill when it was rebuilt. "What would we like it to look like," Guyton said. "It needed to be true to history." Thanks to encouragement from residents and SPLOST funds, the city council decided to start conceptions for what the rebuilt mill would look like and how it would benefit the downtown area.
"The grist mill is a huge part of our history in Euharlee," Guyton said. "I think it can be an equally large part of our future."
Rebuilding the mill is a key part of a "Master Plan" for Euharlee's downtown. Eight weeks ago the city council approved a 20-year plan that lays out sites for potential restaurants, local shops, a visitors center, a new museum, additional parking and a series of walking trails that would connect all these sites and ease access for pedestrians. Sewer systems for the shops and restaurants are included in the plan, as are a number of green spaces with trees and shrubbery. These renovations would roughly cover an area along Covered Bridge Road from the river to Euharlee 5 Forks Road.
Trish Sullivan, city manager of Euharlee, emphasized how the plan was designed to preserve the historic character and historic sites in downtown. "I think Euharlee has such a vibrant history starting with the Cherokee and Creek Indians," she said. "We have a responsibility to maintain and expand and continue to educate. Because if we don't do that we won't have the opportunity to show that history anymore. People won't know it."
Sullivan also sees the mill and downtown renovation as a way to increase tourism. After the LakePoint Sports complex opens, she hopes that parents will dine at local restaurants and visit local shops while their children practice at LakePoint.
The city council will meet April 3 to discuss and vote on a number of motions that will start the permit and funding processes for the Lowry Mill project.