East Macon pool to stay open more days

Renewed proposal to give Terminal Station to transit authority

jgaines@macon.comJuly 1, 2014 

City_Pools

A swimmer takes a leap off the diving board at East Macon Park Pool as a lifeguard extends his umbrella soon after the pool's opening in 2011.

GRANT BLANKENSHIP — Telegraph archives

Macon-Bibb County commissioners voted 8-0 Tuesday night to keep the East Macon Recreation Center swimming pool open six days a week, instead of three, for the rest of the summer.

Commissioner Gary Bechtel was absent as other members approved a revised version of the resolution sponsored by Commissioner Elaine Lucas.

“Many, many citizens want to see more access to pools rather than less,” she said. Her original version called for five of the six pools to be open at least five days a week. Five pools are open now on alternating days. The Freedom Park pool remains closed due to its poor condition.

In committee, Lucas agreed to a compromise proposal to keep just the East Macon Rec Center pool, the busiest, open longer.

Recreation Director Dale “Doc” Dougherty has said that the pools, which charge $1 admission, cost about $220,000 a year to operate when all six are open, but only bring in about $18,000. Alternating open days at five pools was expected to cost about $100,000 this year, he said. Though pools each drew an average of about 100 swimmers per day in the first couple weeks of the season, attendance always drops off dramatically after that, to about 40 a day now, Dougherty said.

Lucas said Tuesday she wants a survey of the public about what they want from pools. She suggested forming groups of nearby residents at each public park to suggest improvements and programs.

Terminal Station

Mayor Robert Reichert is trying the commission on a proposal that failed the now-dissolved Macon City Council: transferring ownership of the Terminal Station from the government to its main occupant, Macon Transit Authority, which now leases space in the building. A resolution to do that was referred to the Facilities & Engineering Committee for discussion next week.

Reichert said the two previous justifications still stand, and now there’s another. The transit authority can’t get federal improvement grants for the building unless it owns it. And with Macon-Bibb County owning the building, the authority can’t add the building’s expenses to its federally subsidized operating cost, he said.

And now, if the authority owns Terminal Station, it’s legally possible to open up land behind the building for public-private development partnerships, Reichert said.

Sentencing laws

Loretto Grier Cudjoe Smith and half a dozen others asked commissioners for a resolution calling for repeal of the 1994 and 1995 Georgia laws that can put juveniles charged with violent crimes in the adult court system and can send those convicted of second violent offenses to prison for life without parole.

Commissioner Al Tillman said he is willing to sponsor that resolution.

Cudjoe Smith said the laws greatly increase prison costs and give no incentive for rehabilitation or good behavior.

Tillman said the laws passed under Democratic control, but this year state Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, sought to repeal them. The now-dominant Republicans wouldn’t allow discussion, Tillman said.

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