MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Commissioners are working with the state on making Ocmulgee National Monument into a national park. If the senate approves this, Ocmulgee would double in acreage and change its name, but there’s some hurdles dealing with blighted properties.
“It’s going to attract thousands of people into the Middle Georgia area,” Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said.
The U.S. House approved making Ocmulgee National Monument as Georgia’s first national historical park, last year. Senators say there’s just one problem with the expansion of Ocmulgee Monument.
“The roadblock we’re running into, now, is that there are several blighted structures on the property that we hope is going to become the national park,” he said.
Blighted property is already an issue Macon-Bibb faces throughout its neighborhoods.
“We’ve got blighted structures all over the community. It’s hard to say anyone is more important or needs to come down,” Schlesinger said.
Commissioners are supporting the effort to try to bring a national park to Middle Georgia.
Land owners of the blight are willing to sell their property to the city, but to buy the buildings Mayor Robert Reichert says it will cost almost $4-million – not including the removal of blight.
“Getting these several structures down would be to the advantage of our entire region,” Schlesinger said.
Commissioner Elaine Lucas wants to make sure the funds for blight in the community remain separate from the blight removal for Ocmulgee.
“Our support for Ocmulgee doesn’t infringe on our ability to continue funding projects and neighborhoods getting rid of blight in neighborhoods,” she said.
Commissioners say funds for the Ocmulgee blight removal will come from fundraising and money available from the city. Federal funding is not an option, according to the proposal given to congress. The only option left is funding through the state and county.