Brookdale Park fails to pass vote again

Published 12:20 pm Friday, February 25, 2022

Americus Mayor and City Council did not have many action items to vote upon on Thursday, February 24, 2022. After a unanimous vote to correct a typo within an ordinance, the vote moved on to addressing Brookdale Park yet again. The park has been brought up by Nelson Brown on several occasions and never gains a majority to move forward. During the agenda setting meeting Charles Christmas expressed not understanding the need to entertain another discussion on Brookdale Park, as the council has voted several times after Brown has brought requests before them. Brown reasoned the council now has a new mayor and a new councilwoman and wanted to give them an opportunity to vote upon the property.

In the past, for various reasons, moving forward on further investment of tax dollars into this project have failed. The park is located on Park Road Extension and is not readily visible to residents and comparatively speaking to other city parks, does not offer a resident an opportunity to know it exists. While being well hidden, the entrance and exit are the same and to park a car means the driver is landlocked within the park. For law enforcement to patrol the park, an intentional effort must be made to access the park as there is no “riding by” the property.

The park has proven to be a great partnership effort with Phoebe Sumter Medical Center (PSMC) and Flint River Fresh as they utilize it as part of their Healthy Sumter Campaign. They have spearheaded and proven successful at establishing a community garden in which residents are encouraged to learn agricultural skills and benefit from the garden’s produce. The model for most community gardens is for the residents to become invested in the garden and take over the care for further sustainability. PSMC markets the garden as being an important part of their campaign and they have done an excellent job in caring for the garden and distributing their spoils. There is no indication their time and fiscal investments will cease. To learn more about PSMC’s initiative, please visit healthysumter.com. In addition to PSMC, another private entity, Williams’ Road Church built and donated a pavilion in recent years. Private citizens have been developing the park with their dollars while the City of Americus, under Barry Blount’s leadership, made the property available for such a purpose. Brown would like to investigate putting Americus citizens’ tax dollars towards it. Within a few miles, a full service park on Rucker Street is easily seen and accessible for all citizens. These are some of the considerations the council has the opportunity to consider when casting their vote about where to invest citizen’s money.

Brown made several attempts to formulate a motion to take some action on the park. The motion presented was a request to procure bids to upgrade the park. There was no indication on what items he would like to see upgraded. Councilman Dowdell offered the second and with no discussion, Brown and Dowdell voted in favor of procuring bids while the rest of the council voted against the action. The motion failed.

Other items were discussed during the meeting. The Hospital Authority as well as the Airport Authority made a report to council. Two public hearings were held regarding a piece of property located on South Lee Street in the Pat’s Place, Circle K area. A potential purchaser who lives in Perry GA and also owns the convenient store on the left-hand side of South Lee going south would like to operate a liquor store out of the property. Current zoning for such is Neighborhood Shopping, to sell liquor the property would need to be zoned Commercial in nature. There is no commercially zoned properties surrounding the properties. The two stakeholders in the property spoke in favor of rezoning, no one spoke in opposition. The Zoning Committee as well as Americus staff have recommended it not be changed. Another zoning public hearing was held. The Zoning Committee is requesting for three options to be altered or added to the zoning to allow for adult day cares, liquor stores and outdoor seating for the properties within the city which are designated as Neighborhood Shopping. No one spoke in favor or against the proposed changes. These will come to a vote next month. The consent agenda, mostly composed of public works related items, was approved. Nelson Brown presented black history of the city council as well as the Americus Police Department.

Another item which brought considerable conversation was the city taking over roads which have been under the upkeep of the county. This issue was brought forth by the county. This is a complex issue requiring much discussion including that of legal research and establishing arguments on behalf of both governing bodies by the city and the county attorneys. While there was plenty of discussion, it was determined to let city attorney further research the options with the county attorney and as such, Jimmy Skipper will be in contact with Kimberly Reid to further the facilitation of the issue. If Americus takes these streets over, they will be responsible for all the civic duties which are indigenous to properties within the city limits, to include a large fiscal and employee time investment.

To close out the meeting, five appointments were made, Diadra Powell gave her update and council members offered various sentiments of gratitude for Americus employees. The next meeting of the Americus Mayor and City Council will be on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at 6pm. Items placed on the agenda will go forward to a vote on Thursday, March 22, 2022, at 6pm. Meetings are open and can be viewed on zoom.com. The meeting ID number and the password are posted when the agendas are posted on americusga.gov. The Americus Time-Recorder posts this information under our Community Calendar submissions as well.

The city council is made up of Mayor Lee Kinnamon and council persons Juanita Wilson, Nelson Brown, Daryl Dowdell, Charles Christmas, Kelvin Pless and Nicole Smith. Diadra Powell serves as Americus City Manager. To determine which district you reside in, please visit the Georgia Secretary of State at mvp.sos.ga.gov. The telephone contact for the City of Americus is 229.924.4411