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Young Gamechangers React to the News

On March 3, 2015, Dublin City Council unanimously approved funding for the development of a master plan detailing the eventual development of a State Bicycle Route 40 and a multiuse recreational trail and river walk along the Oconee River.

These projects are a result of suggestions made by GeorgiaForward’s Young Gamechangers program. In 2014, thirty young professionals from across Georgia spent six days over six months in Dublin, developing solutions to nine challenges facing the community. In June, 2014, the Young Gamechangers presented their recommendations to the community. Suggestions ranged from integrating downtown to nature and recreation through a river walk, gateway improvements along the I-16 and Highway 441 corridor, and development of State Bicycle Route 40.

State Bicycle Route 40 runs through the center of Dublin along US 80, GA 19, GA 29, and Bellevue Avenue, connecting the cities of Columbus and Savannah, with Dublin as the half-way point. From Columbus to Dublin is approximately 140 miles (2 days by bike) and Dublin to Savannah is approximately 120 miles (2 days by bike). State Bicycle Route 40 runs through downtown Dublin to the Oconee River and into East Dublin.

“Development of SBR 40 and the river walk will have a huge impact on tourism, economic development, and our downtown neighborhoods in need of investment. It will allow visitors and the community direct access to the Oconee River and improve walkability, bike ability, and increase residents’ options for healthy lifestyles, said Rebecca McWilliam, Director of Tourism with Visit Dublin. “As a participant of Young Gamechangers it was inspiring to be involved with a group so committed to effecting positive change in Dublin.”

“As the midpoint for a state bike route connecting Columbus and Savannah – and as a destination in its own right – Dublin has tremendous potential to be a hub for bicycle tourism. I’m grateful to have been a part of this effort as a participant in the 2014 Young Gamechangers, and I’m very excited to see Dublin take this important step toward being a bike friendly community,” stated Brent A. Buice, Executive Director of Georgia Bikes. “As a member of the Young Gamechangers it’s exciting to see Dublin’s leaders and community stakeholders take our recommendations and grow them into realistic, measurable, impactful economic development tools. City Councils actions highlight the importance of widespread collaboration, innovative ideas, and willing progressive leadership in improving Georgia’s already vibrant communities.”

Alta Planning + Design, out of St. Simon Island was selected through an intensive RFP process to develop the master plan developing SBR 40 and the river walk. Alta Planning + Design will lead numerous sessions to solicit input from the community in the designs and will present City Council with three options for the master plan.

Young Gamechangers from Dublin and across the state were excited to hear the news.

“The concrete successes that Dublin and Young Gamechangers have shared is proof positive that young people deserve a seat at the table of public policy,” said Howard Franklin, Executive Director of GeorgiaForward. “We look forward to replicating these remarkable results in communities throughout Georgia.”

“It was a privilege to work with the Young Gamechangers program as well as the leaders in Dublin and Laurens County as we collaborated to produce big ideas for the Dublin community,” says Kris Hattaway Vaughn of Macon, program director of the 2013-2014 Young Gamechangers program. “Seeing some of these recommendations implemented is a testament to both the talent the state of Georgia has in its young people and the vision of the Dublin community. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.”

“The 2014 Young Gamechangers class is honored and excited that Dublin considered our ideas for our downtown area.  It is a testament to the City Council’s willingness to work with others in order to continue growth in Downtown Dublin,” said Kelly Herrington of Morris Bank.

“I’m constantly impressed by the Dublin’s ability to get things done. This is just another example of the willingness of local leadership to move forward and work together to make good ideas into realities. I’m just honored to have been a part of this process,” Jonathan Dye, Macon Arts Alliance.

“We are elated that we could be a small part of a larger plan in an effort to help the rest of the world learn what we already experienced with the City [of Dublin]…that Downtown Dublin is a ‘destination worth the detour’ and with great leadership anything is possible,” enthused Tommy Lowmon, City of Blackshear’s Main Street Manager & Economic Development Director.

For more information, contact Visit Dublin at 478-272-4002 or see Visit Dublin.