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Downtown Carrollton project to light up holidays

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By Kristin Beck

Carrollton’s historic architecture will be enhanced this holiday season as lights outline the buildings in the area around the downtown square.

The city of Carrollton and four community organizations have agreed to share the cost of hanging holiday lights along the roofline of some of the buildings in downtown for three years.

EasyPro Property Services owner DJ Carroll presented city council with a proposal on Oct. 25 to put up custom-cut white LED lights along the rooflines of the buildings on Fifth Street, Court Street and Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets in downtown Carrollton. EasyPro has already installed these same lights along the roofline of the Carroll County Public Library.

Carroll emphasized to council that this agreement is for a rental, and the fee includes installation, removal, storage and maintenance on the lights.

The total cost for the three-year agreement is $23,554.80, or $7,851.60 per year. Council agreed to pay 50 percent of the cost, which is $3,925.80 per year, $11,777.40 total over three years.

The remainder of the balance will be shared equally by Carrollton Main Street Program, which also volunteered to spearhead the project, Carroll County Tourism, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll County Community Development Corporation. Each organization will pay $981.45 per year, totaling $2,944.35 over three years.

Main Street Manager Sam Burgess also approached Carroll County Fiscal Court about contributing to the project, but it opted to take no action.

The next step in the process is to obtain permission from all of the downtown business owners impacted by the proposal to hang the lights on their buildings. Burgess said he is waiting on a form from City Attorney Nick Marsh, and he and Carroll will be contacting each of them. Carroll said in an interview Monday that he thinks the owners will see that the project is for the good of the community, and he does not foresee any problems obtaining consent.

Once permission is granted, Carroll said he hopes to begin hanging the lights by Nov. 22 and having it complete by the end of the week. He hopes to debut the lights at a ceremony at A Christmas Carroll Dec. 4.

Carroll said he and his employees will try to hang the lights at night as much as possible so as not to disrupt hours of operation. He will also be contacting a few business owners to see if they would be interested in donating the use of receptacles for electricity.

Library Director Hillary Arney said they love the lights, so much so that they added Halloween and Thanksgiving lights this year in addition to the white Christmas lights.

Currently orange and red lights sparkle along the roofline, replacing the orange and purple bulbs hanging last month for Halloween.

Arney said they have received numerous compliments on the lights, and they have not had any trouble with them. However, she said if they do, she knows she can call Carroll and he will come right out to fix them.

“The customer service we have received from them has been outstanding,” she said.

Arney said she was intrigued when she first heard about the holiday lighting offered by EasyPro, adding she has always loved going to Madison and looking at their light display but did not know how to put it together.

“When I heard what he wanted to do, I thought that was perfect.”

Carroll said he approached Arney with a proposal for the lights last year, and the library is in the second year of their three-year contract. Arney said once the contract is up, she wants to continue with the service.

Tourism director Rhonda Crutcher said her organization was the first approached with the proposal following city council.

“Everybody thinks it’s a great idea,” she said. “… You’ve got to start somewhere, and that is a start.”

Crutcher said she thinks the lights will be nice to showcase the downtown Carrollton area and would like to see the project eventually expand to include the homes and businesses on Highland Avenue. Carroll also said he ultimately hopes a few years down the road that the project will expand to Highland as well as further down Main Street and at the downtown courthouse.

CCCDC president Greg Goff said he was excited about the project and the opportunity it gives to showcase all that Carrollton has in its downtown area.

Chamber president Mark Smith agreed that the lights will have a positive impact on the area. “We think it will just add a lot to the Christmas season downtown, and we hope people will drive down to look at the lights,” he said. “I think doing a project like this is for everyone who lives in our community and in the county. Everyone should be proud of the community for doing this.”

While the organizations have worked together on projects before, Smith said he thinks the collaboration will encourage them to work together more often in the future because everyone saw how quickly decisions were made and results came together. He also acknowledged that it is hard for one group to pull off a project like this, both financially and in the organization needed to bring it all together.

“The downtown commercial district is still very much the center of the community,” Burgess said. “(The project) simply reinforces that sense of community we try so hard to develop.”