Imagine being able to tell Macon’s leaders about anything that should be changed or improved in downtown.
These days, there’s no need to imagine it.
The people behind the Macon Action Plan, or MAP, hosted the first of several events Friday at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. It’s called “pop-up placemaking,” which allows community members to learn more about what is going on downtown as well as pitch ideas for changes.
At Friday’s event, those ideas included everything from building a skate/dirt bike park to adding public parking meters.
Interface Studio, which helped create the College Hill Corridor master plan after hosting similar events for public input, is tasked with putting together the MAP master plan next spring.
Scott Page, founder of Interface Studio, said Friday that getting Macon residents involved in the process is the most important aspect of making it successful.
“Public engagement is critical to everything we do,” he said. “We have two primary objectives -- to share information with the public and to figure out the challenges Macon faces. It’s more important to find out what people would like to see. A lot of folks want to see more housing, more rehabilitation (of buildings), jobs, a better connection with the river.”
Alex Morrison, executive director of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, said residents are free to suggest anything from fixing a pothole to building a downtown baseball stadium.
“We’re asking what should the future look like,” he said. “How should public life in Macon be lived? How should humans engage in our public spaces in a more profound way?”
The UDA is one of the sponsors behind MAP, but Morrison said it’s a partnership among local officials, residents and downtown businesses.
“Our vision is nothing without public engagement,” he said. “We want to see more feet on the streets.”
Brooks and Leah Patterson brought their 10-month old daughter, Eva, to check out maps of downtown and fill out surveys. The Pattersons said they have fixed up part of Sixth Street themselves, renting out commercial space and creating residential lofts.
“I like the idea of getting together like this,” Brooks Patterson said. “It puts a lot of information in the right hands.”
Leah Patterson said she hopes the city uses the opportunity to clean up Poplar Street.
Charise Stephens, who lives on Maple Street, said she’s seen a lot of changes already downtown, especially when it comes to infrastructure. But she added that it’s important to not forget the human element when it comes to change.
“We’ve spent a lot of money on infrastructure, but we need to have an equal investment in the people part of it,” she said. “We need better transportation, education and health care. I’d like to see a water park. That would definitely be a draw to downtown. Hopefully, (the organizers) will get a lot of good input.”
To learn more, visit www. maconactionplan.com.