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College Hill Corridor project progresses

The Macon community had the opportunity Wednesday to check on the progress of a master plan for the College Hill Corridor and offer their opinions about the needs for the area.

The College Hill Corridor Commission, a partnership between the city of Macon and Mercer University that aims to develop the corridor connecting the college with downtown, put together three focus groups to discuss corridor ideas with representatives of Interface Studios of Philadelphia, the firm designing the master plan.

Josh Rogers, director of the commission, said the focus groups were capped at 15 people each. The groups represent area residents, businesses, city officials and Mercer students and staff.

“We had a great turnout at all of the meetings,” he said. “We had a broad spectrum of stakeholders. No one was disappointed or upset (with Interface’s ideas). Everyone had critiques.”

Scott Page, president of Interface, presented his firm’s ideas for the corridor, many of which came from suggestions area residents made at a community meeting last month.

Page said the focus groups provided a means for Interface to get more detailed input from neighborhood residents and businesses in order to put together a plan that meets the community’s needs.

“It’s an important part of the day where we can have these important and sometimes uncomfortable conversations,” Page said. “(With some of the ideas), it’s not that people don’t agree, but they are things people may not have been exposed to. We throw out ideas, and the people push back with their ideas.”

Interface’s presentation addressed a wide variety of topics associated with the corridor, from developing property to traffic and safety issues. The presentation emphasized an environmentally friendly plan that includes bike and pedestrian lanes to cut down on traffic and more trees being planted.

It also listed a number of ideas about making the area safer and offered suggestions about getting area residents and businesses involved with a wide range of community-oriented activities such as soap-box races and live music.

Interface will now spend the next month revising the current draft and present a new draft during a community meeting Jan. 21.

Page said that after that meeting, Interface will present a new draft of the plan to the corridor commission at the end of January.

Rogers said people interested in the latest proposed plans for the corridor can visit the commission’s Web site at www.collegehillcorridor.com and offer their own suggestions.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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