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Georgetown Balances History With the Need to Modernize

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GEORGETOWN, De. - One of the most historic places in Sussex County is no doubt the Circle in downtown Georgetown. But in council, there is a growing debate as to how they will modernize while holding on to the area's long history. Georgetown has created a committee to discuss ways in which they can bring about this process in the county capital.

The origins of the town of Georgetown begin in 1791 when the capital was moved from Lewes to the more central city. Mayor Michael Wyatt said it's important to balance this legacy with current needs for modernization.

"Georgetown does have a lot of rich history about it," he said. "Georgetown also has a lot of old buildings."

He said there are two definite sides to the discussion. He said they need to be concerned about placing too many restrictions on the downtown area, even if it is to protect the historic facade.  

"I'm torn both ways," he said. "I mean I would love to see the beautiful downtown. But if it's beautiful and nobody's there, then what good is it?"

The multiple committees were created to address three main issues. They are looking to decide what types of businesses should be allowed to set up shop in the downtown area, what materials should be used to build them, and whether the historical district should be expanding.

Dale Hamilton runs Dale's Bail Bonds, right off of the circle. He said that change is inevitable and that the city should modernize to a certain extent.

"If you restrict it so much that people can't come in," he said. "You're gonna lose tax base."

Some disagree, such as Dave Kimball who works at Georgetown Barbershop. He said the historic facade actually helps their business.

"There's a lot of historic areas that people come here to visit," he said. "And I think that attracts a lot of people here to Georgetown."

It's been 222 years since the plot of land was bought, and turned into Sussex County's capital. And now the council tries to keep that past alive in the 21st century. The answer to these discussions might not be resolved until as long as 6 months, according to town officials.

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