The prohibition against firearms at Cherry Blossom Festival events in Central City Park continues to be challenged by some people.
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert said he recently received an email claiming since the festival is held on public property that weapons should be allowed at the events. But a recent case in Georgia says otherwise, a county attorney said.
“It’s our determination if we rent it to you for your exclusive use then you can control the conditions,” Reichert said.
The discussion took place at Tuesday’s County Commission committee meetings. Historically, firearms have not been allow at Cherry Blossom, even though some states, including Georgia, have loosened open carry laws in recent years.
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“The 2016 case decided in Fulton County stated if you have public property that’s in control of a private entity, that private entity has the right to determine you can’t bring guns on the premises,” said Crystal Jones, Macon-Bibb senior assistant county attorney.
Cherry Blossom officials will continue having signs posted banning firearms, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.
“They posted signs in the past because this came up a couple years ago,” he said.
The Cherry Blossom Festival will be held from March 24-April 2. This year also marks the return of the Street Party, featuring musical acts performing downtown.
A revised garbage and recycling proposal includes a provision allowing people below the poverty level to request not to have to pay the bills.
The ordinance that would have garbage and recycling fees sent out at the same time as property taxes instead of the quarterly billing was approved by a Macon-Bibb County Commission committee Tuesday. It was the third time the measure went through a committee as some commissioners had reservations about the impact the billing changes would have.
Tuesday’s vote was 6-3 with Commissioners Virgil Watkins, Bert Bivins and Elaine Lucas voting it against it. The ordinance will need final approval at the March 7 regular commission meeting in order to become official.
Along with the exemption for people below the poverty level, the updated version also removes a proposed $2 a month fee increase in 2019. Instead, the earliest cost change could occur in 2020 when the fee will be based on inflation.
The changes to billing designed to help the county receive a higher percentage of collections for the services. The updated code offsets some costs being subsidized to cover solid waste services, several county officials have said.
Commissioner Gary Bechtel said along with other colleagues, he’s also received calls from people concerned about the proposed changes.
“Every fee, every costs, has burdened someone, but we have to look at what’s best to run this government in the most efficient manner,” he said.
Bowden Golf Course
There was lukewarm reception among some commissioners about the prospect of selling Bowden Golf Course.
Reichert said after Tuesday’s discussion he will further look into having an outside group manage the historic golf course. The mayor gauged commissioners interest in putting the public course up for sale or finding new management.
But while some commissioners said they were not in favor of selling the golf course, one commissioner said that something needs to be done with the property that’s losing money.
“I think we should get it back to someone else and get it off our tax roll,” Commissioner Al Tillman said. “It is truly becoming a headache.”
The County Commission will vote next week on a $709,250 construction agreement for Henry Burns Park.
The commission’s Operations and Finance Committee moved ahead the agreement with Ogles Construction for improvements to the Ingleside neighborhood park. The park would get a renovated tennis court, new playground equipment, upgraded parking and drainage system.
The majority of the funding comes from blight bond funds provided by Commissioners Mallory Jones, Tillman and Bechtel.