Touting Pinnacle Park as the start of “a new wave of redevelopment” for the area, Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert led the groundbreaking Wednesday on the site of a former Boys & Girls Club.
About three dozen people turned out for the event on the hilltop site at the corner of Second Street and Edgewood Avenue, with a Macon Water Authority tank looming above it.
The water authority is a partner in the project, Reichert said. But much of the impetus came from his own family: the Reichert Family Foundation gave money to the Community Foundation of Central Georgia to buy the land, which then went to the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority with the stipulation that it be used for a park.
Macon-Bibb government then applied for federal Community Development Block Grant funds for the improvements, Reichert said.
In September, commissioners set aside $100,000 for the park work, to include trails, benches and landscaping. In March, a $77,850 construction contract, including $15,500 for irrigation, went to Oasis Construction Services of Roswell.
Jeremy Jones of Oasis said the company plans to start work in earnest next week at the site, at 1527 Second St.
“We anticipate being done by the end of May, first of June,” he said.
Later phases, including perhaps an overlook tower, will wait for additional funding. A news release touting the groundbreaking advertises “a great view of downtown,” but the view is now blocked by trees behind two boarded-up houses on Edgewood Avenue.
The park is on the line between the districts of Commissioners Larry Schlesinger and Virgil Watkins. Watkins said with each new development project, more partner agencies seem to come forward to increase the pace.
Alex Morrison, the UDA’s executive director, said he hopes to see similar public-private partnerships work on spots throughout the urban core. Pinnacle Park, he said, will add to the pedestrian friendliness of the area, which is near the Second Street Corridor.
The Second Street Corridor is Reichert’s plan to link downtown with Mercer University via a walkable, landscaped, business-lined avenue.
“This park is going to be a wonderful asset and a blessing to the neighborhood,” Schlesinger said.
He wished it was possible to clear all urban blight at once, but it must be done a step at a time, and a comprehensive blight plan is in the works.
Reichert, too, said the park serves goals of increasing pedestrian use and improving neighborhoods. He wants commissioners to spend some of the $10 million in bond funds recently earmarked for blight clearance in the neighborhoods near the new park.
“This Pinnacle Park gives us a beachhead from which to attack the blight to the south and east of us,” Reichert said.