Perry undergoes strategic planning process

mstucka@macon.comApril 17, 2014 

PERRY -- At age 17, Amber Payne and Eli Guidry have a hard time seeing a future for themselves in Perry after they graduate college.

Still, they said, a town hall meeting attended by more than 100 people Thursday showed them lots of potential improvements.

Payne said she’d like to become a radiologist but doesn’t know if it’d be possible to get such a job in Perry.

“I’d like to have a job when I graduate,” she said. “I can’t do that if they’re all taken.”

Guidry said he would like to see more options for younger people, such as musical performances. He was approached after the meeting by a restaurant operator interested in launching an open mic night.

“I feel like there’s potential here,” said Guidry, a high school junior who worries the city won’t follow through on the ideas.

Mayor Jimmy Faircloth said at the beginning of the meeting in the Perry Arts Center that ideas from the strategic planning process would help guide the city in the short term and 20 years from now.

“This master plan is critical, and it’s important,” Faircloth said.

Under the coordination of an adviser from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, tables of people came up with their own ideas of what Perry is doing right and what it needs to fix.

A list of those ideas scrolled on a screen: “charming,” “friendly service,” “attractive,” “we welcome others,” and then, incongruously, “buzzards” -- a reference to the city’s Buzzard Drop to welcome in the new year.

People in the crowd easily agreed on the city’s rougher points. Gen. Courtney Hodges Boulevard was repeatedly cited as one of the city’s biggest problems.

“Courtney Hodges is the welcoming thing to Perry, and it’s not very welcoming,” one woman said into a microphone.

Others said there are few activities for seniors or youths, and they worried about the city’s empty industrial park and how to keep downtown vibrant.

Some participants predicted everything would turn out well. Asked what Perry would be like in 10 years, Community Development Director Mike Beecham took the microphone. “Beautiful,” he replied.

The University of Georgia assistants have been conducting focus group meetings and plan several more Friday. Initial committee reports on the strategic plan are expected next month.

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