WARNER ROBINS -- Houston County’s three mayors said Thursday that their cities are doing well, but will do better with plans for economic development, better parks and downtowns and other quality-of-life improvements.
The talks by Centerville Mayor John Harley, Perry Mayor Jimmy Faircloth and Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms were part of the Robins Region Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs & Issues breakfast series.
Toms said Warner Robins is considering ways to revitalize its Commercial Circle area, perhaps by getting restaurants that will bring nightlife to the area. The city is also studying its 17 parks and recreation facilities.
“I’m the mayor of this city, and I couldn’t tell you where all of them are,” Toms said. With changing demographics, some of those parks may not be needed -- or may need different amenities. While the recreation master plan study is underway, the city has also been working on cleaning up Walker’s Pond.
Toms also talked about the city’s newest fire station, being built on Cartwright Road at Ga. 96 and scheduled to open in July. More behind the scenes, the city has moved some departments to the former Star Building across the street from City Hall and is putting $30 million into its Sandy Run Creek wastewater treatment plant to expand capacity and meet new standards.
Harley said Centerville is moving to create its own storm-water utility to maintain storm drainage infrastructure. That’s likely to cost residents about $4.25 a month, and will be similar to what Warner Robins and Perry already do.
“This is something that will be mandated eventually by the state, and we want to take care of ourselves,” he said.
Harley said he, City Council members and four city workers are planning to spend two days talking to officials in Senoia and Suwanee to learn how those communities have created vibrant downtowns.
The city is also partnering with the owner of the Houston County Galleria to build a new entryway and large fountain along Houston Lake Road, with the fountain honoring all branches of the military, he said.
Faircloth said Perry is also looking to change things to improve its economy. The city is considering an incentive package to encourage development of more midscale and upscale hotels, as well as redevelopment of existing hotels.
Faircloth said “62 percent of these motel rooms are classified as economy. The goal is 20 percent.”
Perry is also working on a branding campaign with its partners and is pushing microgrant and revolving loan programs to help businesses, Faircloth said.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.