Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

AskMayorMiller: New jail, downtown development, reduced crime rates

Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller looks ahead to 2024 and reviews 2023. Send your questions to [email protected]

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller sees a new national park, multi-million dollar East Bank development and a continued reduction in crime for 2024.

During last month’s taping of Ask Mayor Miller, the mayor reflected on the past year and looked ahead to the next 12 months.

Miller noted that recently published reports, that showed Macon had the highest crime rate in the state in 2022, were based on old data compiled by a personal injury law firm as a promotional campaign. (0:33 into the video)

“It’s paid advertising, as far as I can see. They pulled some things from 2018 to 2022,” Miller said. “More importantly, it’s not current, it’s outdated. By the time you get these statistics in, they’re years outdated.” 

As of mid-December, Miller said crime was actually down 12% with homicides dropping about 47%, according to the last time he checked. At the conclusion of 2023, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office reported 41 homicides down from a record 70 cases in 2022, which amounts to a 41% homicide reduction year over year.

He expects Macon to continue to fund the most successful Macon Violence Prevention programs that are producing results and garnering the attention of other Georgia municipalities, he said.

Miller said it is frustrating for him and county commissioners who are held accountable for “every action the sheriff does or does not do” because Sheriff David Davis operates as an independent constitutional officer and does not formally answer to the local government that funds his department.

The mayor also pointed out that the news media focuses on the murder rate when the figures are high but fails to give as much attention to declining homicide numbers

He will remember 2023 for construction of the amphitheater, Rhythm and Rally pickleball facility and the county’s five-fold increase in spending for road repairs. (9:28)

We’re going to continue to pave a lot of roads leading into 2024. It’s going to be one of the top initiatives. And of course, the blight continues to be,” Miller said.

Atop his 2024 wish list is national park status for the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Miller believes the enabling legislation could drop as early as January or February. (10:28)

Macon-Bibb County recently requested proposals from developers to build on 21 acres of the old Bibb Mill site off Coliseum Drive. Miller considers acquiring and preparing that property for development as another highlight of his administration. (11:24)

Proposals are due February 15 for the planned East Bank development on Coliseum Drive near Interstate 16.

The East Bank concept would combine a hotel, office space, retail and more than 800 dwellings on that site which could be the gateway to the future national park.

The new Interstate 16 exit at Second Street will bring a new entrance to the Coliseum near the old Chamber of Commerce location. (15:08) Miller also is working on plans for another major development on county-owned property off Emery Highway that used to be home to the health department. He plans to have a proposal ready for the 2025 SPLOST campaign. (15:50)

Miller also expects a “substantial” mixed use development to be built along the river on the old Macon Transit Authority property near the Burger King. Former Mercer University President Kirby Godsey has been actively marketing the property in recent years and an announcement could come early this year, Miller said.

Plans for a new jail also are being discussed for the 2025 SPLOST. Miller would like to see the law enforcement center moved from downtown, but he did not discuss specific locations for a new facility.

Pedestrian safety measures are expected along Gray Highway and enhanced lighting is planned for Pio Nono Avenue, Miller said. (17:00)

The mayor also is excited about the future growth of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport with the lengthening of the main runway and plans for a guitar-shaped facility for private flights and charter aircraft. (14:09) Miller expects the airport renovation to spur more economic growth for the community and encourage development near Avondale Mill Road, which could include a new passenger terminal as the county tries to recruit a new airline to supplement Contour’s flights to Baltimore.

Send your questions for Ask Mayor Miller to [email protected]. Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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