East Macon community forum to be held Saturday

pramati@macon.comNovember 29, 2012 

In an effort to keep east Macon residents in the loop about developments in that part of the city, the Ward I members of city council will host the first of three public forums Saturday to get input from the community.

Council members Elaine Lucas, Rick Hutto and Lonnie Miley are hosting what Lucas calls the Eastside Summitt Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon at the St. Paul AME Church, 2501 Shurling Drive. Lucas said there will be an additional meeting later in December and one in January, with dates and locations still to be determined.

At a news conference she held in front of the church on Thursday, Lucas said the primary focus on the forum will be economic development in the east side of Macon, but also will touch upon other topics including crime, public safety and consolidation.

“We want to talk about economic development, or lack thereof,” she said, adding that one of the goals of the forum is to put pressure on government entities to look at development on the eastside. “We’re going to provide information on controversial issues.”

For example, Lucas said they want to hear from attendees as to whether or not they are in favor of non-partisan elections, something that the legislative delegation and local leaders are exploring at the moment.

Lucas said those in attendance also will be able to hear about the Walnut Creek Village initiative, which is a development that grew out of the Shalom Zone in east Macon. The project, put forth by a group called the Legacy Builders, is designed to improve the Fort Hill and Cross Keys neighborhoods.

“That’s going to be the highlight of the meeting,” she said. “It’s a wonderful project, but there’s no funding.”

Lucas said east Macon has lacked a public-private partnership along the lines of the College Hill Alliance, the expansion of Second Street or the redevelopment of downtown.

Lucas said all members of the public, regardless of whether they live in east Macon, are invited to the forums, and that several local leaders will be attending, as will representatives of the mayor’s office, Macon police, the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department, and other organizations.

“We want to make sure the government represents all the people,” Lucas said. “The eastside sometimes gets slighted. ... We want to get people involved and let the representatives know what (the residents’) feelings are on those issues.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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