Macon would use all its legal options -- voluntary sale or donation, forced sale through eminent domain or one kind of foreclosure -- to get hold of abandoned or blighted property and turn it over to redevelopers, under a resolution proposed Tuesday.
The measure, sponsored by City Council President James Timley, came up for debate in the Public Properties Committee on Tuesday and passed in a 4-0 vote, with Councilwoman Elaine Lucas arriving just afterward.
Timley wasnt present at the time, so Councilman Tom Ellington spoke on the issue. While the city has worked to make a dent in the problem by demolishing rundown, empty houses, that only affects part of the problem, he said. The idea now is to get the property in the hands of the city or the Macon-Bibb County Land Bank Authority, which can then sell it to a developer where there is an actual, reasonable redevelopment plan, Ellington said.
The resolution says the city should amend its policies to make greater use of all avenues allowed by state law and establish a public database of blighted or abandoned properties to attract developers with ideas.
A proposal to turn two city-owned lots near the current site of the Tubman African American Museum over to the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority failed a committee vote in May, but Public Properties Committee Chairman Rick Hutto asked to discuss it again Tuesday.
Alex Morrison, the authoritys executive director, said the city owns nearly undeveloped land on the corner of Walnut Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. When the new Tubman on Cherry Street opens -- perhaps in early 2015 -- the old building will be marketed. The idea is to combine that plot with the citys land, making a total area of about 1 acre that should be more attractive to developers, Morrison said.
The UDA would get 10 percent of the sale proceeds as its marketing fee, while the Tubman would get 90 percent of its current propertys sale price, and the city would get 90 percent of its lands price, he said.
The Public Works & Engineering Committee signed off on a new contract with Cherokee Brick & Tile Co., preparing to keep the methane gas flowing from the city landfill past the start of the Macon-Bibb County consolidated government.
Cherokee has bought methane for years, paying about 9 percent of the cost of commercial natural gas, Public Works Director Richard Powell said. Assistant City Attorney Christine Helms said Cherokee has the additional expense of processing the gas, and a consultant has said the city charge is within the market range.
The new rate is a slight increase from the current contract, according to Powell. Selling the gas brings the city about $100,000 per year.
The current contract would run out in December, Helms said. The new one lasts for five years, but it must be ratified by the new government before July 1, 2014, or it will automatically terminate.
The resolution passed the committee 4-0, with Councilman Henry Ficklin absent.
Rosa Parks Square
At a nonvoting council work session, Mayor Robert Reichert said he wants a new granite sign marking Rosa Parks Square, at the corner of First and Poplar streets across from City Hall, in place by Dec. 1 -- the 58th anniversary of Parks arrest in Montgomery, Ala., a key moment in the civil rights movement. He plans to submit a resolution this week that would let the city accept donations, but if necessary appropriate up to $15,000 for the project.
It would be my hope that we could raise that money in contributions to the city, Reichert said.
Architect Russell Claxton showed a rough design for two rooms created by landscaping at the Poplar/First corner, with the first bearing the granite sign. The park was enlarged last year, and a concept plan shows its many existing monuments rearranged in individual areas marked off with rows of shrubs. Claxton said he got informal prices for the sign, brick pavement and shrubs for the proposed rooms.
Everything, including the capstone sign, comes to about $13,400, he said.
Councilwoman Elaine Lucas said shed heard mention of a statue of Parks.
That really is going to come later, Reichert said. Hed like to see one similar to the statue of Otis Redding in Gateway Park, but that could be very expensive, he said.
We are under the impression it could easily be six figures or more for a bronze statue of that size, Reichert said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.