“We’re trying to address the needs of the community,” Tonja Khabir with the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Organization told Commissioners, staff, and media when they visited Linear Park in Historic Pleasant Hill Neighborhood. They were there to learn about pending improvements to the park thanks to a grant of $1.375 million from the State of Georgia through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Macon-Bibb, the Community Enhancement Authority, the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Association, Bike Walk Macon, and WT Designs worked for more than six months to plan for the next round of improvements to the park. Through focus groups and outreach events, they met with met with more than 400 residents about what they’d like to see happen. They also are working with Bike Walk Macon, the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, and national groups supporting our community like Reimagining the Civic Commons and The Opportunity Project for Cities.
“We want the neighborhood to know we heard them,” says Tedra Huston with the Community Enhancement Authority. She added that this outreach effort was especially important because many residents felt like, over the past several decades, they didn’t know what was being done and wanted to be included in the planning process.
With input from residents, they are working with the Regional Commission and partners to find solutions to meet the identified needs. They came up with several areas people wanted them to focus on, from infrastructure (blight, traffic calming, transportation) to public safety to youth and education to cultural and community engagement.
“We’re going to have a lot more in the future,” adds Khabir.
The groups will improve upon the basic design for Linear Park, a park built by Georgia Department of Transportation as part of the I-75 mitigation process, to better serve community needs and improve health and financial outcomes for the neighborhood. The enhancements will add programming, access, and safety to the park through improved sidewalk design, addition of shade structures and pavilions, and addition of a basketball court. Macon-Bibb will also add irrigation to the park to ensure that trees and plants are able to survive in the park which can be subject to high heat.