Warner Robins Council talks historical preservation, sports marketing boards

chwright@macon.comAugust 5, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- A town that already has a dozen boards may soon add two more.

At its dual meetings Monday, Warner Robins City Council discussed a sports authority for marketing and an historic preservation commission. Council gave the go-ahead for the former but questioned the latter.

“I have tried to think of historical places in Warner Robins … and I can think of six,” said Councilman Mike Davis.

Saving history?

The Warner Robins Heritage Society felt differently. Art Howard, a member, said the city is in a unique position because it’s young and could start saving history well before it loses any.

But Davis and Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins questioned the requirements listed in the proposed ordinance. Part of the requirements are that the building has to be 50 years old.

“I think this is nothing more than a back door effort to” prevent the Houston County Board of Education from one day demolishing Rumble Academy, Davis said.

Davis later said he may have misspoken. But still pressed that requiring residents in these buildings to seek approval for home repairs is more government than they want.

Alex Talley and Henrietta McIntyre, also members of the Heritage Society, refuted Davis’s claims during the meeting.

Council ultimately agreed to let the residents meet with a couple council members and Mayor Chuck Shaheen to work out a better plan for the commission.

“It’s something new for here, and they (council) have questions and they want to make sure they understand the process, and once they understand the process, I think it’ll address their concerns,” Howard said.

Sporting good time?

But council welcomed the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau proposal to create a sports authority that would help bring more sports events to the city.

Marsha Buzzell, director of the CVB, said the idea would be to have year-around events packing hotels.

“We’re really missing out on millions and millions of dollars,” said Councilman Daron Lee. “We know if the hotels are full, then dollars are being spent” in the community.

Lee added that the city needs to move forward with building the sports complex to provide a venue for these events.

The last detailed presentation on what the sports complex would look like began with the recreation director James Dodson explaining his plans and ended with some of council telling him it wasn’t what they’d asked for. It’s one of three recreation projects council has discussed this year.

More council

Also at Monday’s meetings, council approved the lease of an armored vehicle for the police department. It will be the city’s first.

Chief Bret Evans and council members said it will protect officers in cases of shoot-outs like the one earlier this summer, where bullets penetrated car doors officers used as cover.

But Jason Patrick, a self-proclaimed political advocate, told council after the vote he fears the vehicle will be used to intimidate residents.

“If you’re paying $44,000 a year, you’re going to want to take it out,” for use in raids and other police activities, Patrick said.

After the meeting, Shaheen confronted Patrick and his two colleagues. Shaheen told them he was mad at their reaction, the city is only trying to save officers, and it has to step its tactics up to meet the level of criminal weaponry.

Council also approved $110,000 from the 2001 special purpose local option sales tax for a turn lane at Moody Road and Leisure Lake Drive to prevent accidents. Evans said accidents aren’t frequent, but they’re often serious.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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