It has been a year since this newspaper started exploring the issue of blight. While we can’t say that the nine-part series “The House Next Door” exposed the blight that is apparent in much of the city, the series did bring focus to it, and the four-part return to the subject that concludes today is just one of many that you’ll see over time.
As the stories over the past four days have amplified, blight is an insidious enemy. Victory is never assured and the battle will be long and ongoing. Even as we continue to talk about the problems of blight there are some successes — however small — to celebrate. One success is attention at the county level. The new Macon-Bibb County Commission, without any argument, voted to issue $14 million in bonds to kick-start the blight fight.
Habitat for Humanity continues its work in the Lynmore Estates area and for those who are familiar, the work done there has made a tremendous difference in the quality of life of the area and in the involvement of the people who have chosen to live there. Habitat’s work isn’t finished, but has moved into a different phase called deconstructing. The process not only salvages building materials but lives in the process.
Kings Park is also showing progress with the county’s 5X5 program and Commissioner Elaine Lucas is spearheading the effort. Is it enough? No. After decades of neglect, this area is going to be a work in progress for quite some time, but the residents are seeing some change. We would all like to be able to wave a magic wand and shout some mystical mumbo-jumbo and watch blight instantly disappear, but that’s not going to happen in Kings Park or anywhere else in the county where blight has taken up residence.
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When it comes down to it, the county can demolish dilapidated structures, but it’s really going to be up to the people who live in an area to see that something other than weeds and varmints grow there. The county can help. Young people can be organized to pitch in, because initially, its the older members of the communities that have been most active in caring for their areas and beating the drums for improvement.
And most of all in this epic battle, the attitude of residents must change. We know it’s difficult to continue to hold out hope that help is on the way and to make phone calls time and time again to those who might be able to help, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and as the commissioners start trolling for votes prior to next year’s elections, their eyes, ears and pocketbooks, may be opened wider than usual.