Open letter to citizens of Bibb County

A firestorm of controversy has developed with regard to the purchase of property, the building of a Judicial Center, the renovation of the existing courthouse and the many possibilities surrounding these decisions.

First, I would like to commend the previous commission on their diligence in securing potential sites. They made a sound decision. We already owned a good bit of property in the area in question. The purchased properties are in a blighted area and will help to expand downtown. DFACS and other agencies in that area already have parking problems. Elimination of dilapidated housing in that area would complement the work of other developers, NewTown Macon and Mercer’s College Hill Corridor Commission.

Purchase of the property was a good investment in our community whether or not it is the ultimate location of a new Judicial Center.

However, as the newly-elected chairman, my vision for this community involves a first step of listening to the people. I have heard and am still hearing from almost every corner of Bibb County. Today, I would like to bring the community up to date on where we are in this process and ask for their involvement.

Bibb County has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to architectural firms to explore a wide array of issues and concerns to include evaluation of the existing courthouse, a review of alternate sites, including adjacent buildings and properties, other potential sites in the heart of downtown Macon, as well as the present site, and to address further concerns of citizens.

With respect to the selection of the architect, the board has authorized the chairman, Finance Committee Chairman Elmo Richardson and the chief administrative officer to appoint a committee to review the applicants and develop a short list for selection of a firm.

This committee will be made up of representatives of elected officials, the sheriff’s office, judges, the downtown business community, the Macon Bar Association and others. This review committee will recommend the architect and assist with developing the scope of work.

My message as chairman is that I am committed to listening to the people and that your concerns will be considered as we move forward to develop a vision for our community.

This is the message of my fellow commissioners as well.

Samuel F. Hart Sr. is chairman of the Bibb County Board of Commissioners.