Stakeholders of Macons downtown area were given an update Monday afternoon of how plans for the Second Street Downtown Corridor project are developing.
Officials told more than 30 community leaders, residents and business owners that the community has given those involved with the project a lot of feedback as to what theyd like to see in the development of the corridor. The aim of the project is to allow for better transportation access, encourage economic development and beautify the areas along Second Street from Eisenhower Parkway all the way to Gray Highway.
Among the ideas that community members have submitted include green spaces, walking/biking-friendly areas, streetcars, and keeping the hump bridge in use. Community members also wanted the project to have a minimum impact on private property.
Design plans for the corridor can be viewed at the citys website, www.cityofmacon.net/mayor.
The city will host two public forums this week to allow residents to make further comments. The first meeting will be Tuesday night at the Buck Melton Community Center, 150 Sessions Drive, and the second meeting will be Thursday at the Middle Georgia Regional Commission Office, 175-C Emery Highway. Both meetings run from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Mayor Robert Reichert said he is hopeful that a final plan can be finished by March and submitted to Macon City Council shortly thereafter. If the council approves the plan, the city would issue bids for architects and builders. Reichert said without any hiccups, construction could be under way before the end of the year.
Project officials estimated they would get between $25 million and $70 million for the project from Bibb County SPLOST funds, the state, and federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Transportation.
Of that money, about $25 million would go toward costs to improve the corridor, while $40 million would go to transportation costs.
Cesare Mammarella, who owns several restaurants and nightclubs downtown, said hes cautiously optimistic that the corridor could have a transformative effect for downtown.
Over the years, Ive been to a lot of these types of meetings, but nothing ever seems to catch any traction, he said. But I cant see any negatives (with this plan). This is the most exciting thing Ive seen in the 12 years Ive been here.
However, Roger Wilson, who owns property downtown, said he is against the project because officials never consulted with property owners about what impact it would have.
Im opposed to it, because they (developed plans) without talking to me, he said. I think its arrogant as hell. ... I think we ought to get some notice.
During the meeting, officials said they plan to talk to property owners once the plan is closer to being finalized, since they dont know which properties will be affected yet.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.