Macon residents can now see just where the city stands in its quest to tear down abandoned buildings, and the picture should only get clearer.
An interactive map of those buildings -- those cleared by the courts for demolition, delayed for some reason or recently torn down is posted at demo.cityofmacon.net. Theres also a link to the map under Removing the Blight on the citys website, www.cityofmacon.net.
Houses moving through the city process are marked with green house-shaped icons. Those temporarily held up are yellow, and the ones already torn down are red. A click on the icon will give the address, when it was added to the list, and its status.
More options may be coming soon, according to city Webmaster Justin Crum, Multimedia Manager Trae McCombs and IT Director Steve Masteller. It all depends on what city officials and then the general public want, Masteller said.
The feedback at this point is internal, coming from city staff and the administration, he said.
But Crum has added an email link on the page for the public to use. At the suggestion of Public Affairs Director Chris Floore, Crum also agreed to add a link to SeeClickFix, the system that lets people report code violations and other city issues online.
Its a pretty extensive project that we have going, but I believe with the citizens help it can be even better, Crum said.
Masteller said Mayor Robert Reichert urged his department to create an interactive transparency mechanism for the public and City Council members to monitor progress on house demolition.
It was something that was being talked about for a while, he said.
Floore said during last years work on interactive-government tools by Code for America program fellows, copying a similar map used by code enforcement in New Orleans was mentioned, and the idea never went away.
After dismal results in the previous fiscal year, as of July 1 Macon directed $530,500 to house demolition for use by the end of 2013, when the city will merge with Bibb County government. Reicherts administration set the aggressive goal of tearing down 100 abandoned buildings within 75 days.
Interim Chief Administrative Officer Dale Walker said via email that it was his idea to make the renewed effort visible to the public, so he turned to IT staff.
Given a problem, staff came up with a solution, Walker said. The graphic is designed to give us a picture of how we are doing with our goal of 100 house demolished in 75 days. It will go fast once it gets started. I am told there are 12 ready with another 75 about to be cleared (for demolition).
The map posted now is based on fairly old data, from a spreadsheet provided by the citys Economic & Community Development Department, Crum and Masteller said.
Whats not on there is the condemned list, Floore said. But another 43 will be added to the in process list in the coming week, he said; and McCombs said new data on recent demolitions should be posted Monday.
If the tracking device gets positive feedback during the 75-day demolition blitz, Masteller said, the city wants to improve it: perhaps incorporating GIS data, including detailed information on the abandoned structures, pictures and a list of known code issues at the sites. But he, Crum and McCombs said whats added will depend on what the community wants.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.