Politics & Government

East Macon’s Kings Park neighborhood looks to begin blight transformation

Theresa Hugley, the president of the Kings Park Neighborhood Association, hopes the next five weeks begin a transformation for a neighborhood plagued by blight.

A news conference held at the Samuel Hart Community Center drew Macon-Bibb County leaders and residents for the announcement of the latest 5X5 Neighborhood Improvement Plan. Attendees used their pamphlets for fans while county leaders discussed their collaboration with residents for cleaning up the east Macon neighborhood.

“I see the hope that people had lost returning,” Hugley said afterward. “We were hanging on by a little strand, and now it’s turning into a rope we have grabbed hold to.”

The 5X5 Neighborhood Improvement Program began in the city of Macon at the direction of Mayor Robert Reichert as a way to target a five-block area in five weeks. The program involves everything from repainting curbs and sidewalks to installing street lights and demolishing abandoned homes.

The Kings Park Neighborhood Association approached Macon leaders about its desire to clean up the area, and subsequently the subdivision became a prime choice for the program.

Commissioner Elaine Lucas, whose District 3 encompasses Kings Park, said she’s excited for the future of an area that’s too often been neglected by local government.

“I hope you can see how thrilled I am that this is coming together,” she said.

Lucas said she’d like to see improvements to the community center, two buildings that were used by other agencies and then closed under the former Bibb County government because of high costs.

Since consolidation of Macon and Bibb County, the buildings have returned to the control of the local government and they’ve been home to the Kings Park Neighborhood Association meetings and other programs.

“These people are saying they need our help and want to see the benefit of their tax money being put to use,” Lucas said.

City-county crews are performing an array of tasks in Kings Park under 5X5 like repairing streets signs and mowing rights of way.

A playground will get new equipment and two pavilions will be renovated, along with other improvements.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office will train a new batch of residents for the Citizens on Patrol program as a way to foster a stronger relationship between law enforcement and residents.

Ultimately, the success of the 5X5 program in Kings Park depends on sustaining the improvements that began this week.

The initiative shown by the Kings Park Neighborhood Association is a positive sign that the improvements can last, said Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore.

“What we have found over six years of the program is that where this program is the most successful is where there is a neighborhood group to sustain it,” he said.