Every community needs a park’: Late leader’s vision continues to revitalize Macon’s Southside


Eliza Moore/GPB

Family and community members pose with a photo of the late Frankie E. Lewis on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at the ribbon-cutting for the new park.

Originally published: June 8, 2023

Macon-Bibb County cut the ribbon Tuesday on a new park in the city’s Southside.

Frankie E. Lewis Park on Lynmore Avenue is named after Frankie Everett Lewis, who died in 2019. Lewis founded the South Macon Arts Revitalization Technology Group, or SMART, and worked at Bruce Elementary School. Family said she was a longtime activist for positive change in her community.

“She basically kind of decreased the threshold between, you know, the city government and the community members, the wants of the community,” said Anthony Lewis-Ross, one of Frankie Lewis’s sons.

On Tuesday morning at the park’s ribbon-cutting, Lewis’s granddaughter Lily Lewis played on the brand-new playground off Houston Avenue, testing out the slide and outdoor instruments. Her father, George Lewis, was one of many community members at the park’s ribbon-cutting.

To me, it means just a reflection of my mother of her vision of how she felt about Macon and the community that she loved,” George Lewis said. “Every community needs a park, you know?”

The park, paid for with money from a special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, is part of the city’s effort to replace blighted properties with spaces for community.

In 2020, a contract with Stafford Builders and Consultants allocated $760,500 of 2018 SPLOST funds toward the construction of the park.

“Just some couple of years ago, there were three to four blighted structures right here where we’re at now,” said Bibb-County Mayor Lester Miller. “This is what can happen when you eliminate blight and put the people’s money to work to make a difference in there.”

Before he cut the ribbon on the new park, Lewis-Ross said he’s proud to see the city investing in his neighborhood.

“What she would say now is like, ‘Hey, South Macon is no longer a spectator to change,’” Lewis-Ross said.

Bibb County Commissioner for District 2, Paul Bronson, pointed to other happenings off the Houston Avenue corridor, like a recent Open Streets event for pedestrians and cyclists hosted by Bike Walk Macon. The city also started a demolition and beautification project at Cliffview Lake earlier this year, also funded by SPLOST.

In addition to a playground, Frankie E. Lewis park also has basketball courts, picnic tables and greenspaces.

This story comes to The Macon Newsroom through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.” Please include a hyperlink to our website in “GPB News” gpb.org/news.