MACON, Ga. — The Macon-Bibb County commission passed a resolution Tuesday night that would move two Confederate monuments to make downtown improvements.
Commissioner Virgil Watkins first introduced his proposal to proceed with the 2015 Macon Action Plan to redesign Cotton Avenue Park earlier this month.
Mayor Robert Reichert made an amendment, proposing a three-part project that included relocating two statues. On Tuesday, that resolution passed 5-4.
The Confederate statue on Cotton Avenue and the 'Women of the South' monument on Poplar and First Street will be moved to Whittle Park, which is right outside Rose Hill Cemetery.
This decision came after around a dozen people held a forum outside the Government Center, asking for the commissioners to hear them out.
"I have no idea that they would need to rush to a vote so quickly. Why they couldn't just stop, take a break and learn more from the community before they decided to take action," said Jess Dominy, a person outside the Government Center.
Some commissioners asked to table the vote, saying there was not enough public input. However, the attempt to table the vote failed.
"If you will just let the people have a meeting. Let us talk about it," said District 1 Commissioner Valerie Wynn.
The three projects would cost an estimated $5 million with up to $2 million in county funds potentially already available.
"We have many more things that are much more important to the public than us having an extravagant park," District 4 Commissioner Mallory Jones said.
The commission's decision will put a plaza at Cotton Avenue, a roundabout at Poplar and First Street, and improvements at Rosa Parks Square.
Reichert says the cost of the entire project will be money well spent.
"If it would pull together and unite this community in an effort to be inclusive, to show that we are progressive, to show that we are warm and welcoming and inclusive to all members of our society," Reichert said. "I think that message would be worth it's weight in gold going forward and showing that we want to do the right thing and we want to move forward."
The Sons of Confederate Veterans sent a letter to Mayor Reichert and the commission saying they would not oppose the statues being moved if the statues remain in their original location until a new site is prepared.
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