On Tuesday, April 21, a concerned, determined group of senior citizens protested outside of City Hall in an effort to oppose the proposed selection of the Bloomfield recreation center as the new site for a Macon-Bibb senior citizens center. One of the voices who stood up on behalf of senior citizens was former Bibb County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards who explained that seniors want a facility of their own and prefer a downtown location. The downtown location is preferred over South Bibb because it’s closer to hospitals and the sheriff’s office.
Edwards, a local attorney, is also representing some of the senior citizens in regard to their dispute with the proposed site of the senior citizens center. A petition was presented to commissioners that had 1800 signatures which opposes the Bloomfield site.
“They’re not being heard. They’re not being listened to. They’ve been petitioning, they’ve been asking to be part of the process and that’s simply been ignored,” Edwards told 13WMAZ. “We want justice for seniors, people who are being marginalized, kicked to the curb and who are being disrespected in their best years. So I look forward to the fight.”
Commissioners had recently voted for the Bloomfield site, and an architect is currently working on detailed plans. The Board Commissioners voted to expand the existing Bloomfield Recreational Center, while moving designated youth activities to the adjacent Gilead Baptist Church location, which Macon-Bibb County also owns. However, there is a opposing narrative that the process of choosing a site was done too quickly with limited input from the senior citizen community in Macon-Bibb.
In February 2014 , Robert Curry Jr. was quoted in the Macon Telegraph and said that he thinks the selection process moved too fast.
“A few people made the choice for many, and I don’t think that’s the democratic way to do it,” he said.
Senior citizens in Macon-Bibb make up approximately 13 percent of the population and many who are advocating for the new senior citizen center want a larger building. At Tuesday night’s meeting, senior citizens asked commissioners why they would build a new facility for animal welfare, but simply renovate an old building for seniors.
Macon-Bibb has pushed ahead in proposing and completing projects such as the new Heath Road Fire Station, a new Heard Elementary School and the new animal shelter.
Some seniors spoke last summer to Central Georgia’s largest television station–WMAZ-TV– to express their frustration of other projects taking priority over the Senior Citizens’ Center.
“The building is just too small,” Gwendolyn Strong said. “They think more of the dogs than they do the seniors.”