Good things come from those who wait and from those who decide to cooperate. One of the ongoing sagas in the new consolidated government has been how to fulfill a promise to senior citizens that was made before the Macon and Bibb County governments merged. When the special purpose local option sales tax was put before voters in November 2011, one of the items on the to-do list was a new senior citizens center. There was never a question that a new center would be created, but a source of controversy that has emerged is where the new center would be located. The process has drawn the ire of seniors who use the center on Adams Street across from Tattnall Square Park.
First there was a proposal to move the center to the former Bloomfield Recreation Center off Rocky Creek Road. That idea went over like a lead balloon in a deep ocean. Seniors felt their wishes were not being considered. The site was too far from medical facilities and away from the city’s center. The former A.L. Miller School for Girls on Montpelier has also been discussed, but that site is older than many of the seniors and has been vacant for decades. While both sites are technically still on the table, the site that is the leading candidate was first mentioned by then Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart and then city of Macon Mayor Robert Reichert when they were barnstorming together to gather support for the SPLOST vote: Central City Park.
There are three sites in close proximity, either in the park or just outside it: The old driver’s license bureau; the former Caduceus Occupational Medicine and Atlanta Gas Light. The seniors like the area because they would have access to the amenities and people in the park, and they would be close to medical facilities if needed. Now the commission has to figure out how much money it has to spend. Rather, it has to figure out how much facility $2.7 million will buy. We would suggest that if it takes a little more -- $300,000, as Commissioner Elaine Lucas believes -- that the commission figures out a way to come up with that amount.
They key to passing future SPLOST referendums is for the government to keep its word -- particularly to our senior citizens.