New entrance to Ocmulgee National Monument part of Macon Action Plan
The Macon Action Plan is a blueprint that will help Macon-Bibb leaders in their urban core planning. The plan focuses on four areas:
- Supporting the engines of economic development
- Creating an unparalleled Urban Core experience
- Focusing on Urban Core living
- Cultivating connectivity
County leaders announced parts of the final plan Thursday morning. They said details about early action projects in downtown would be announced soon. The announcement focused on East Macon, specifically the Mill Hill and Clinton Street projects.
“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s never too late,” said Reverend Ronald Terry, an East Macon resident.
Terry has lived in Macon for more than 40 years. He said he’s seen new buildings put up while his neighborhood became worn down.
“I saw a difference in how people viewed us,” explained Terry.
Mayor Robert Reichert explained the Mill Hill and Clinton Street projects are ways to make Macon more attractive to people getting off the interstate.
“You tell them to stop in Macon, they come and see blight and slums. They say what a terrible place this is,” said Mayor Reichert.
The Macon Action Plan is trying to change that with two projects in East Macon.
“The Clinton Street gateway into Ocmulgee and the revitalization of housing stock. The East Macon housing stock became Mill Hill,” explained Macon-Bibb’s Urban Development Authority Director Alex Morrison.
The Clinton Street entrance to the Ocmulgee National Monument is locked. People who use the trails said it has been for some time. The plan is to open the gate and create a big entrance that connects downtown with the Ocmulgee National Monument. Mayor Reichert said this would also be beneficial if the Congress passes the legislation turning Ocmulgee into a National Park.
The Mill Hill project turns the old auditorium on Clinton Street into an arts center. It also renovates the old homes behind it so artists can live in them.
“We have roughly two million dollars for the Mill Hill Project, some of which we’ve already spent on acquisition and initial planning,” explained Morrison.
Morrison said the two million dollars is enough to cover the renovations on the block of homes they’ve already planned to rebuild, but he hopes to raise more money and expand the project.
It cost the Urban Development Authority $750,000 to buy the land needed for the Clinton Street Park Project. Leaders are trying to come up with the additional $500,000 needed to build it.
“We’re committed to doing this one way or another,” said Morrison.
It’s a turning point Reverend Terry is happy to see in his neighborhood.
“Those who have felt left out, will have a sense of inclusion,” said Terry.
Construction on the blighted houses is expected to start in November. The county is still raising money to renovate the auditorium.