A large crowd gathered Friday, Sept. 27, for the Lula Depot dedication ceremony.
“This gathering today (Sept. 27) is all about commitment,” Mayor Jim Grier told the more than 100 people gathered in the depot.
Over the past few years, the Lula City Council has made a commitment to bring new life to downtown Lula, both by creating projects funded by the city and also by encouraging private investment in the downtown area, Grier added.
“This project is a key component of that commitment,” Grier said.
Grier presented a brief history of the depot and the surrounding park.
In the early 1980s, a group of Lula citizens, known as the Lula Area Business Association, was committed to creating a park where the city could gather for events such as festivals like Railroad Days, games and other gatherings that brought citizens together. At that time, the group acquired the land from the railroad and soon constructed the stage that is still in use.
Then in 1996, there was a slightly different group, made up of both business owners and active citizens, known as the Lula Area Betterment Association. (LABA). That LABA committed to constructing the depot replica. The building was constructed with volunteer labor and many of the materials were donated by area businesses.
“The commitment of those volunteers was strong and two years later the building was completed,” Grier said. “On August 22, 1998, a group like us gathered here to dedicate this building to Joel W. Poole and other Lula citizens who had worked for the railroad.”
One of the speakers at the 1998 dedication ceremony was State Representative Carl Rogers and Rogers was in attendance for Friday’s renovation celebration.
Phase 1 of the renovation project on both the inside and outside of the depot building has been completed and Phase 2, consisting of work on the stage and yard, is expected to begin on October 7.
“We expect to be able to start taking reservations in December for use beginning in January,” Grier said.
Grier thanked city manager Dennis Bergin for his commitment to this project after the original general contractor awarded the bid for construction for the entire Phase 1 of the project walked away before starting work.
He also thanked Lula citizen Wayne Clanton, for his work as the on-site manager and scheduler, and many others who were a part of the renovation and restoration project.
The group gathered for the ribbon-cutting included Lula staff members, Lula business owners, Banks County officials, Hall County officials, Lula residents and people from the surrounding area.
“As we cut this ribbon and open a new chapter for this building and our community, let’s make a new commitment,” Grier said. “A commitment to care for this building as we enjoy it, and that means all of us, not just the city employees. A commitment to support our Lula businesses as they commit to support this community. And finally, let’s make a commitment to support each other as friends, neighbors and even family as we enjoy this Community Center and all the elements of our community.”