This article appeared in the February 2019 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
Macon-Bibb residents and visitors are enjoying the counties recreation infrastructure.
or many, the word “infrastructure,” sparks ideas of roads, bridges, sidewalks and sewers. But for the leaders in Macon- Bibb County, they also include parks and recreation in their list of infrastructure offerings.
“Just like good roads and bridges, we need an investment in parks and recreation for our quality of life,” said Chris Floore, assistant to the Macon-Bibb County Manager for Public Affairs.
In Macon-Bibb, government leaders are in the midst of a nearly 16-year, $90 million investment in their recreations centers and parks, thanks to a voter-approved SPLOST, bonds approved by the Macon-Bibb Commission to attack neighborhood blight and federal funds.
“Because of this investment and by working directly with the people the parks serve, we are changing the look of our community, improving the spaces where people gather to play and socialize and providing more places for people to lead healthier lifestyles,” Floore said.
More than Entertainment
Using $6 million in federal funds, Macon- Bibb created Amerson River Park, a 160+ acre park along the Ocmulgee River featuring a boat launch and takeout, playground, more than four miles of paved trails, multiple pavilions, wide-open lawns and scenic river views.
According to Floore, there have been nearly 470,000 visits to the park each year since opening in May 2015.
County and neighborhood leaders illustrated partnership when they worked together to redevelop a small downtown corner park that sat at the juncture of an unsafe intersection. The neighborhood utilized grants and private donations earned from their own efforts to improve the park, and Macon-Bibb used SPLOST funds to increase safety by realigning the intersection and enlarging Bernd Park.
Once the crown jewel of Macon-Bibb’s park system, Central City Park had fallen into disrepair from overuse, lack of investment and deferred maintenance.
“Right now, the park is in the middle of a more than $15 million investment of SPLOST funds, which included the new Elaine H. Lucas Senior Center, skate park, sidewalks, playground and fields and a major overhaul of Historic Luther Williams Field to welcome the opening season of the Macon Bacon,” said Floore.
Other recreational infrastructure improvements include the rebuilding of the Filmore Thomas Park. After being promised a new park for more than 30 years, neighbors are finally able to enjoy this amenity, which is named after one of their community leaders. Filmore Thomas Park was made possible by combining $1.7 million in SPLOST funds and $376,000 from the Blight Remediation Program, and then pairing that with $1.8 million in SPLOST funds to improve the roads and add sidewalks leading to the park.
Macon-Bibb residents and visitors are also enjoying the second phase of the brand-new South Bibb Recreation Center thanks to the SPLOST, which will bring 24 new tennis courts, new fields, trails, playground, splashpad and more.