Macon Mayor Robert Reichert on Thursday sought help in settling an issue about the benches outside of the Dempsey Apartment building downtown.
“I have ended up getting in the middle of a squabbling match between the retail merchants along Cherry Street and the ownership of the Dempsey and some residents of the Dempsey and interested citizens about the location of the benches,” Reichert said to the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority.
The benches were removed by the city last fall at the request of Dempsey management who indicated to the mayor that it was in the best interest of the residents, but the issue became a political hot potato.
Earlier this month, the matter finally made its way to the Macon City Council, which passed a resolution requiring the benches to be returned to Cherry and Third streets, but not necessarily in the exact same location.
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Reichert said Thursday he hasn’t signed the resolution yet.
“I have three choices,” he said “I can A: sign the resolution and approve it and it says put (the benches) back in 10 days. B: I can veto it and throw it back into a tempest in a teapot or C: I can do nothing — not sign it, but it becomes effective after 10 days. ... If it becomes effective without my signature, I don’t know who would relocate the benches.”
Reichert suggested Macon landscape architect Wimberly Treadwell, who works with the authority on various downtown projects, help with relocating the benches.
He asked the authority, which had the benches installed as part of street landscape upgrades, for assistance “because I don’t want to go down there and direct where they go,” he said.
Authority members discussed the issue for several minutes and threw out several suggestions, including putting a railing around the benches — similar to downtown restaurant patios — indicating the benches were for Dempsey residents.
Treadwell said the problem was not with the residents using the benches, but with the homeless or others who used the area as a gathering site. She agreed to meet with Dempsey management to try to work out a solution.
“The politics got all out of whack on this one because it really was not a big issue,” Treadwell said.