Discussion heated up at Monday's Macon city council committee meeting over who can put memorials on city property.
The conversation arose after friends and family members of murdered Mercer Law School graduate Lauren Giddings asked to put a bench in her honor in a city park.
The committee did not address the Giddings bench directly, but member Louis Thompkins sponsored legislation to spell out the guidelines like who can dedicate a memorial and what kind of items qualify.
He proposed that the city accepts donations like benches, tables, and monuments as long as they comply with city codes and ordinances.
Thompkins says allowing donations will help improve the look of the city and promote community involvement.
When he addressed the committee he said, "I, along with you, have all of our duties and responsibilities to earnestly, sincerely, and diligently pursue ways and means by which we can improve our community."
Thompkins proposed five criteria for a memorial and the donation must meet at least one to qualify. The list included memorials for either an organization or person who contributed to the city, or a donation that commemorates a place with historic value.
The last point on the list allows someone to donate a memorial for a person whose death greatly impacted that person's family or the community.
Council president James Timley disagrees with that item. He says it would open up the floodgates for anyone who wants to put up a memorial.
He says, "Who's death is not going to impact their family? Everbody who dies is going to impact their family, so that's no different from what we have now. We are at the crossroads now of trying to decide whether or not we want to commemorate the life of someone that impacted the life of that person's family. That's anyone. A dog will impact the life of a person's family."
Family and friends asked to put a bench in honor of Giddings at Washington Park.
Timley spoke against this donation on several occassions and says the bench for the slain law grad does not meet his criteria for a memorial.
"The level of impact is significant contributions to the city of Macon. Anyone who meets their demise who has contributed significantly to the city of Macon," says Timley.
The Giddings memorial bench must pass a committee vote Tuesday afternoon before it can go to full council that night.
Committee members voted to accept Thompkin's legislation, but it still must receive a majority vote in Tuesday night's meeting to go into effect.