The Clark County Strategic Plan has 16 goals and action steps that pertain to Gurdon, but the residents and officials of the town are already taking action to make positive changes, Mayor Clayton Franklin said.
“Our cleanup campaign has already started,” Franklin said. “We’ve removed 17 old structures in town and have that many more to go.”
Gurdon received a grant from Southern Bancorp to help with the costs of demolishing dilapidated and unsafe structures, and are stretching the grant as far as it will go. “We’re doing the work ourselves,” Franklin said, referring to the work being done by city crews. The city only charges the landowner $500 for the demolition, instead of hiring outside contractors that charge much more.
“We want to make Gurdon look as presentable as possible,” he said. He said property owners are much more likely to pay the smaller amount, which makes the funding go further and the city is able to do more projects.
The completed projects are now fully-prepared building sites for new homes and businesses. “All the lots already have utilities,” Franklin said. “They’re ready for new construction.”
In addition to eliminating unsafe and unsightly properties, the project has spurred interest by other property owners in improving their properties, Franklin said. “Property owners are taking responsibility for their property.”
Gurdon officials are ready to help make improvements to all of Clark County by working toward the goals of the CCSP, he said. “We’re gonna do our part.”
Among the projects listed in the plan for Gurdon are the acquisition of a major industrial rail spur. “We already have the spur,” Franklin said. If it could be developed as one that delivers products for the industrial park, it could bring jobs and industry to Gurdon and the rest of the county.
Franklin said he cautions his townspeople that all this work cannot be accomplished quickly.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. But with dedicated citizens, the improvements will happen. “We will take it as we can. It’s a slow and steady program.”