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Savannah Shines Brightens One Neighborhood at a Time

September 22, 2017
This article appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
Savannah city officials and residents look forward to the Savannah Shines program.

The bright sunshine perfectly matched the spirits of Savannah city officials and residents during the recent ground­breaking for the Savannah Shines pro­gram. This ceremony took place at the site of a future community playground in the city’s Edgemere-Sackville neigh­borhood.
 
Savannah launched this program to help improve neighborhoods and the quality of life of its residents.
 
Savannah Shines is a multifaceted, coordinated approach to neighbor­hood revitalization and will address four areas: private and public prop­erty, public safety and community en­gagement.
 
“This is a great day for the city of Sa­vannah and for the Edgemere-Sackville neighborhood,” said City Manager Rob Hernandez. “There are so many good, hardworking people who live here and many of them just need a little boost to enhance their well-being.”
 
“The goal of this program is to work hand-in-hand with our residents and to come up with a plan of action that meets their needs and is attainable,” said Community and Economic Devel­opment Bureau Chief Taffanye Young.
 
“We want to educate our residents about the many programs that are out there that can help them with financial assistance to fix up their homes and their yards. We want to work with land­lords to rid neighborhoods of blight.
 
We also plan to aggressively go after property owners who violate city code and bring down the neighborhood.”
 
Over the next 18-24 months, city staff will join forces with the neighbor­hood association and work to inform residents on a variety of issues includ­ing housing assistance, home owner­ship, home improvement programs for our veterans, sanitation, property and zoning standards, lighting and prune tree canopies to improve public safety.
 
One tool that may be used to ad­dress blight is the newly-enacted abil­ity of cities to use eminent domain to place blighted properties into produc­tive uses. Savannah city officials part­nered with GMA and other cities to advocate for the successful passage of House Bill 434, which creates a pro­cess to allow a municipality to con­demn for blight and sell the property immediately.
 
Edgemere-Sackville was selected as the first Savannah Shines partnership based on the city’s Sunshine Index. This index uses specific criteria to rate Savannah’s neighborhoods. The crite­ria includes the existence of an estab­lished neighborhood association, the number of housing code violations, property code violations, delinquent property taxes, and crime data.
 
During the groundbreaking offi­cials expressed excitement about working with motivated residents, who are ready to “jump in and make their neighborhood better.”