Macon-Bibb planning to replace blighted neighborhood with athletic field

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon-Bibb is one step closer to getting rid of another stretch of blighted properties in the city. 

Macon Spas and Woodstoves has faced Riverside Drive for more than 30 years. 

The store’s owner, Warren Powell, has been there since 2001 and he’s quick to sell you on the latest hot tub and stove. 

“In the past I’ve seen people going and coming in there, so Heaven only knows what’s going on in there,” Powell said referring to people coming out of houses on Wise Avenue. 

While the front of his store faces Riverside Drive, his backyard is Wise Avenue. 

“It’s not a great place to have customers observe either,” Powell said. 

House after house — boarded up, run down, and in some cases gutted out. County leaders are working to tear the structures down. 

“The plan is to really get in here and revitalize this area in conjunction with the Macon Charter Academy, their ability to use the field. It won’t be for them, it’ll be a parks and recreation facility open to everybody,” Clay Murphey, the bond administrator for the county’s Wise Avenue project, said. 

There are $2 million in blight bond dollars set aside to build a new multipurpose field. An agreement between Macon-Bibb and the county’s land bank authority will make the process in taking over properties behind in taxes easier. 

“They can take those properties and acquire them on behalf of the county for the past due taxes. It helps us cut through some of the tape we’d normally go through if it were a straight outright purchase,” said Murphey. 

A handful of people still live in the neighborhood. The plan is to negotiate a contract with the remaining residents.

“Negotiate contracts with those. Have houses appraised, have them tested for lead-based paint and asbestos, then demolish those houses,” Murphey said. “And encourage home ownership and encourage some pride in the neighborhood, then what you’ve done is a good thing and that’s what the blight money if for.”

All for community pride and creating a future together. 

“Anything that would improve the community here would be a real asset,” Powell said. 

Commissioners passed a resolution on Tuesday during their committee meeting. If it passes during their next commission meeting, bond coordinators say the plan is to have the fields available by the beginning of the next school year. 

Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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