Resident coalition plans rally
CAUTION to protest roads plan
By Jennifer Plunkett
The Macon Telegraph
Nothing kept those signs from Macon's yards.
Not a broken-down truck loaded with sign materials on its way from Valdosta, not a deadline ticking the hours off before tonight's rally.
Citizens Against Unnecessary Thoroughfares in Our Neighborhoods (Macon) canvassed residents Sunday and posted signs with their logo on lawns throughout neighborhoods.
"I think we've got (the city and county officials') attention," said Gene Dunwody Sr., a coalition member from the Wesleyan Drive area. "We think they're listening. We hope they take some of our suggestions from the rally."
CAUTION Macon is a homeowners' coalition hoping to change the way roads in the city and county are designed.
The coalition will meet outside the Bibb County Courthouse tonight to bolster community support for a five-point agenda that includes a call to place a hold on all road projects until they can be reviewed.
The county commission's regular meeting will coincide with the rally.
Coalition members want engineer Walter Kulash to review all the projects. They say Macon and Bibb County officials initially failed to involve homeowners in projects that would transform their neighborhoods. They implored elected officials to change how the process would continue, and officials responded by hiring Kulash, an Orlando engineer who works for Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc., the firm overseeing the $300 million road improvement program.
Van Ethridge, project manager for Moreland Altobelli, said he's relieved to hear the residents feel they're being heard.
"We've tried to listen all along," he said. "For them to say that we are listening, I take that with great surprise, and I'm glad to hear it."
Ethridge said it's "entirely possible" to change the designs of the many projects that are yet to go under contract.
"Input from the community is what we have been trying to get," he said. "We want to know what they'd like to see.
The coalition will have a representative at the county commission meeting to "listen in and see if they notice what we're doing," said resident Lee Martin.
The rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. outside the Bibb County Courthouse. Speakers will begin at 6 p.m. Mulberry Street from First to Second streets will be closed for the rally.