In lieu of a traditional final exam, students will design landscape plans for the chamber to be implemented in a proposed overhaul to the building and grounds.
“As their final exam they’re going to do the chamber project. They’re going to draw a design for the chamber and we’re going to incorporate a color page into it so it will look good in the presentations,” said Chatt Tech Horticulture Instructor John Hatfield. “It’s no different than doing one of the fictional designs, but when we do it for an actual client people put their heart and soul into it, we get a lot better work and there’s a lot of competition among this class. Everyone wants to be the winner.”
Entering the first phases of a complete renovation for the chamber property at 122 W. Main St., Chamber President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr. expressed his vision for a revamped outdoor environment and emphasized the economic importance of the planned facelift.
“I was on the board when we decided to relocate here and the idea was to revitalize downtown — that was 15 years ago. We bought this property from Wachovia Bank, at the time, and we own the entire pad out to Erwin Street,” Harris said. “When you come into the chamber, you should feel like it reflects Bartow County and the pride we have in our community. But it also sells us, because voestalpine signed their deal after walking from Hilton Garden Inn, through downtown to Moore’s Market. That’s why they came here. They came because of our community. And [industrial prospects] feel when they walk on this lot, when they walk in this building, the experience they have will determine whether they locate here or not.
“If we can beautify this area and make it a little park, that will help all of downtown and make it an even better place for all of us to live and work. Out in the back we want to make that into an outdoor classroom and picnic area. It will help with the use of our building, but it will be a nice area for everyone in downtown. It will be a functional meeting area, plus a place for everyone to enjoy.”
A capital campaign will seek to fund the project, estimated at about $200,000, which will not only add new life to outdoor landscaping, but will also address necessary repairs and needed technology upgrades. While Chatt Tech works outside, a team of interior designers from Shaw will be heading up the redesign inside.
The chamber also hopes to defer some costs by using the facility as a showroom for locally manufactured goods. In their Monday meeting, students working on the landscape design proposals were encouraged to highlight the history, culture and character of Bartow County. Landscaping will likely incorporate items from local industry, including rock from New Riverside Ochre and trees from Sharp Top Trees.
“We’re doing this project to help the community and make it a lot more fun for our students,” Hatfield said. “This is a strong class and we’ll get some good work out of this. It’s a particularly good group.”
Planting is set to take place next fall, although some work has already taken place to beautify the grounds. Master Gardeners from the University of Georgia Bartow County Extension Office lent their hands earlier this month planting flowers and shrubbery donated by the Cartersville Home Depot.