Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb Commission approves study of alternate senior center site

A.L. Miller High School on Montpelier Avenue.
A.L. Miller High School on Montpelier Avenue. wmarshall@macon.com

The Macon-Bibb County Commission agreed Tuesday to look into the feasibility of moving a proposed senior citizens center to a gym on the campus of the former A.L. Miller School.

Before the unanimous vote, however, Commissioner Al Tillman -- who co-sponsored the resolution -- urged about a dozen seniors in attendance to let commissioners know exactly where they want the center.

Tillman said that while senior citizens are rejecting the current plan to move the center from Adams Street to the former Gilead Academy and Bloomfield Recreation Center properties off Rocky Creek Road, he also has heard from residents who are already opposed to the Miller location, even though it’s only a mile from the existing senior center.

The old Miller school is on Montpelier Avenue.

Every time the city conducts a feasibility study, Tillman said, that expense comes from money set aside to build the center.

“I encourage seniors to share (with commissioners their preferred) future locations,” he said during the meeting. “We can’t keep spending money on feasibility studies.”

The 2012 special purpose local option sales tax set aside $2 million to build a new center, and Mayor Robert Reichert noted that a recent land swap with Mercer University involving the current center is bringing an additional $750,000 in funding.

Some of the seniors who attended Tuesday’s meeting, however, don’t seem satisfied with the city’s actions.

“Macon is getting a reputation that it’s unfriendly to seniors and their needs,” said resident Wilson Jones, who addressed commissioners.

Jones said he wants seniors to be actively involved in the selection process.

Tillman said after the meeting that part of the problem is that the SPLOST was approved by voters when the city and Bibb County were separate entities. The decision to approve $2 million for the center was in place when the consolidated government took over.


Also Tuesday, Reichert referred a resolution to the commission’s Economic and Community Development Committee that would amend the memorandum of understanding between the city and Spirit of America Theme Park and Development LLC for the new water park at Lake Tobesofkee.

The park’s developers want to delay opening several aspects to the park, including:

Construction of the park’s entrance until after the first season;

Construction of the third slide of the West Wind White Water attraction and the wave pool until after the second season;

Construction of permanent bathrooms and shower rooms, as well as the dome structure for the lap pool, until after the fifth season.

Developers also said they want to nix plans for a volleyball court because of safety concerns.

Reichert said he’s been told the water park won’t open this year until June 30. He said some of the delays came in part because of changes made from when the project was originally to be located in Peach County.

“It’s in a state of flux,” he said. “They basically had to start over. It’s unbelievable what they’ve been able to accomplish. We want to work with them. I’m still very excited about the project. Good things come to those who wait.”

In other business Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved:

Spending about $2.9 million for a new computer system that will serve all of the courts in the county;

Spending $56,464 on a new John Deere 50G with a 24-inch bucket-hydraulic excavator for the Public Works Department;

Hiring the firm of Tydings and Rosenberg LLC for $101,388 to create a strategy that will increase participation of minority- and women-owned firms in local government contracts.

A resolution of support for the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council to continue to administer the Head Start Child Care Program in Macon-Bibb and Monroe counties;

A resolution to allow the mayor to execute an amended agreement and restated hangar lease between the city and Four Winds Hangar LLC for the continued use and maintenance of an aircraft hanger at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport. That measure was approved 8-0, with Commissioner Gary Bechtel recusing himself from the vote.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.