Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Readers weigh in on blight series

During the past nine days, the community responded to the series produced by the Center for Collaborative Journalism that focused on residential blight in Macon-Bibb County.

The project by the CCJ — which includes The Telegraph, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Mercer University’s journalism program — gave readers insight into the dire problems in some of the city’s worst blighted areas and also showcased some neighborhoods on the rebound.

Additionally, the series explored how local government currently deals with blight and what it might do in the future. Some readers questioned when blight would be “taken care of in my neighborhood,” and one resident wants Mayor Robert Reichert to “avoid building speedways through neighborhoods” because it causes blight.

Another reader said: “So many good people in prison in their own neighborhoods.”

Here are other select responses from the community. They have been edited for length, clarity, grammar and punctuation.

Earlene Bray: My taxes are paid, and the electricity is still on, but my house is boarded up and needs repair. Why? Because as an elderly widow I could no longer live there alone. The neighborhood changed. Before I boarded it up, thugs from the community kicked in doors and ransacked my house. The housing market changed, and flippers want to get the house for free and pay for the lot. Since boarding it up, copper thieves removed the plumbing. I live off an annuity and can’t make up for the damage the criminals that have no respect for others’ property have done. I say crime is the main cause for blight. Those that say vacant houses cause crime have it backwards. Evil hearts cause crime.

Cristina Kameika: Can the homeowners association of Kings Park make a meeting appointment to meet with the mayor? The more people the better, and those that can’t come, signatures would be good. Mention that this is not how we want our Macon to look and that dilapidated homes and uncared for yards and graffiti only breed more crime. … We need the government to fund some of the cleanups in Kings Park!

Elaine Peacock Brockman: I live in the Peach Orchard and have the last 14 years. Never been broken into, never hear gunshots and have good neighbors. We are clean, law-abiding, non-drinking or drugging white folks. We work every day and pay our bills. Get sick of people who judge those of us just because we don’t live in a fancy neighborhood. We also sleep well at night because we aren’t worried about how we are going to make the mortgage. Thanks for the people who don’t look down their noses at those of us who choose to stay here.

Daniel McDowell: There are still houses in my neighborhood that have blue tarps over them from the (2008) Mother’s Day twisters, not to mention all the houses still boarded up from the same twister that are covered in gang graffiti.

Dave Oedel: My view is that Mayor Reichert’s work on blight is his single best achievement as mayor, leveraging his skills and abilities as a lawyer with a worthy goal that will help all. Go for 300 (demolitions per year) would be my suggestion to him. Now that he knows the ropes of this complex legal challenge, he can amp it up. That said, we need to think about the next stage — what to do after demolition of blighted properties. Without a plan for that, all we are doing is speeding the natural process that will bring the blighted properties back to nature even without a governmental push.

Randall Griffin: Macon has come a long way in improving our downtown areas. It’s going to take time. Take a drive down here and see it for yourself!

Samantha Anne: I’ve seen one sign for the 5×5, and it was in an area (Ridge Avenue) that didn’t need help! What the city needs to do is get together with local charities. Then pick one weekend each month and do different 5×5 areas. But instead of just glazing over the area, actually help the residents. I’m talking about having the labor department there to help with resumes and help people apply for jobs online. Have the health department there to do general health screenings/checks. Have the fire and police departments there to help residents clean up yards and outside areas. Habitat for Humanity and other local charities there to help folks with housing, furniture, clothing, etc.

Janice Holton Grinstead: Macon needs to go back to the gem it used to be. Way too many blighted areas now, and it is ruining where I live! Amber Murphy: Seriously, when every other headline out of Macon involves shootings and robberies, combined with failing government initiatives and a broken local government, what do you expect? Nobody wants to live in or move into a crime-infested cesspool. Not to mention the joke of a school system you’ve got in Macon. Y’all are doomed, man.

John Anthony Kirby: If they are longtime residents, why did they let their neighborhoods go down like this? They could have already done something about it.

W. Rogers Jackson: Everyone needs to own their share of responsibility for the blight in Macon. Don’t only blame the residents. Repair your rental properties. “Slumlords,” take pride in your so-called investment. The only time many slumlords are available is when rent is in arrears. Many of the properties in some blighted areas belong to those who live in the better parts of town.

Lauren Leblanc: My grandmother lived on Mogul Road (near King’s Park), and I remember seeing that neighborhood when we went to visit her. It was so well kept back in the ‘70s. What a downhill spiral.

Janice Hatchcock: Most of the renters in the blighted areas are professional renters. They come in because the slumlords just want to get a renter in them. They might pay one month’s rent, then no more, because they know how long the process takes for the court to get their sorry butts out. By this time, they have destroyed the inside and outside. The mentality is we will just move on to the next and leave the mess for someone else to take care of.

Pam Davis Bass: I don’t know that much about Section 8, but I do know that they inspect the property once a year and give you a list of repairs to be done, and you do them or you lose your approved property status. So I believe the privately owned properties are a bigger problem. There is almost no code enforcement in Macon. I have actually been told by a supervisor of that department that it would be unfair to enforce laws against landlords that live in Bibb County because they can’t enforce laws against out-of-town landlords. Why? Macon is known as a great place for out-of-area landlords to buy property because there is little to no enforcement.

Shaundra Walker: Interesting how #TheHouseNextDoor is being framed as an “east Macon” or “west Macon” issue. #Macon is too small to chop into pieces #blight #Blight is an issue for the entire city of #Macon. Until we see our collective self, the problem won’t be solved #TheHouseNextDoor

More to Discover