Bibb County contractors meet with residents for input on parks plan

hgoodridge@macon.comMay 21, 2013 

As Bibb County solicits ideas from the public on its Parks & Recreation Master Plan, some residents are saying they’ve been down this road before.

The first of four community input meetings to formulate a plan to spend nearly $39 million in SPLOST funds on the county’s parks was held Tuesday at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

The topic was familiar to Merritt Johnson, head of the Bellevue Concerned Citizens Community Organization. “We’ve been talking about this since the 1970s,” Johnson said to representatives of ZT3 Placemaker Studio, which facilitated the meeting. “All we have is a pile of dirt out there,” Johnson said referring to Durr’s Lake.

“We’re rehashing some of the stuff we’ve gone over,” Johnson said. “All we do is get promises from not some of our elected officials, but all of them.”

Robert Curry Jr. agrees. “Why are all the pools in the poor neighborhoods broke down?” he asked. “Unionville, broke down. Filmore Thomas, never had one. Freedom Park, broke down. Booker T. Washington, broke down.”

Peggy Winters-Thompson, president and CEO of ZT3 remarked to the dozen or so people at the meeting that regardless of what promises were made in the past, SPLOST funds for Bibb’s Recreation and Parks are earmarked and will be spent. Funds for the area’s underprivileged neighborhood parks factor into the master plan, Winters-Thompson said, including $3.5 million for Freedom Park, $2.5 million for Bloomfield, $1.5 million for Filmore Thomas Recreation Area and $1.3 million for the Frank Johnson Recreation Center.

“We didn’t create the list. We didn’t create the funding,” Winters-Thompson said.

Some of the work done by the park planners before soliciting community input included surveying all of the parks in the county to determine what’s there, what’s working and what’s not working.

Winters-Thompson told Johnson that all of the plans made for his community’s recreation area in the past have been shared with planners and are being taken into account.

After surveying the parks, the planners then did a needs analysis. They’re in the community involvement phase and a facilities design phase will follow along with funding, a preliminary plan and the final plan.

A second community input meeting was held at the Porter Ellis Community Center following the meeting at Mount Moriah.

Two meetings are planned for 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Porter Ellis Community Center, 5987 Houston Road, and 8-9:30 p.m. at Lake Tobesofkee Claystone Park Pavilion, 6600 Moseley Dixon Road.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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