With a freshly renovated city hall and a new community center, New Ellenton officials are now trying to realize their city’s full potential.

In December, City Council agreed to hire Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization, to help it come up with a plan to revitalize the area surrounding S.C.-19, on which the city is located. Council has also had consultation from former Aiken City Manager Roger LeDuc over the last few months, and he feels optimistic of the progress the small city is starting to make.

With LeDuc’s guidance, Council held its own retreat and established goals to accomplish this year. It’s top goal is forming citizen committees to develop plans for Evans Park, improvements along S.C.-19, neighborhood revitalization and sewer line expansions. Each committee will be headed by at least one Council member.

“The bottom line is how do we go ahead to make the future bright and move the community forward?” LeDuc said. “We believe that through these four committees and this project here, we can establish a vision of what New Ellenton could become.”

New Ellenton has faced a history of challenges.

Once named Ellenton, the entire city was moved from its original location in the 1950s when the Savannah River Site was established. Throughout the years, the City has experienced political and financial adversity.

LeDuc said they hope to bring the community together to offer ideas of how to beautify its city, and hopefully attract businesses to increase New Ellenton’s tax base. New Ellenton Mayor Vernon Dunbar agrees, saying they have vocalized plans for the city but now it’s time to formalize them.

“We’re trying to use everything that we have at our disposal,” Dunbar said. It’s always good to get some fresh views of our plans, and, though it may not all be immediate, there will be some things we can work toward. We’re really excited about the future of New Ellenton.”

Once a plan is established, New Ellenton City Council will then look into potential grant opportunities, LeDuc said.

Both LeDuc and Dunbar are excited that the Urban Land Institute will be involved in the process. Community leaders and business owners from around Aiken County will be asked to offer suggestions of how improve the city based on their own personal experiences. Engineers, municipal planners, community organizers and other experts from across the state will make up a panel to hold these discussions.

The newly established committees will meet with the Urban Land Institute on April 30 and May 1, and individual interviews with community leaders will be held on May 1.

Residents are also encouraged to get involved, LeDuc said. Open sessions will be held on the afternoon of May 1 at the new community center with a public presentation to be held at 3 p.m.

The cost to hire Urban Land Institute is about $10,000, and funding to cover this contract is coming from the one-cent sales tax, according to a memorandum.

Amy Banton is the Digital News Editor for the Aiken Standard.