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Warner Robins task force hopes to curb blight throughout city

The city plans to appoint nine community members to their blight task force to report blight and find solutions to reduce it.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Mayor LaRhonda Patrick says the City of Warner Robins is working on getting back to the people and back to the basics.

The city is doing this through new community boards. They're relaunching their parks and recreation advisory board for community members to plan community events. 

Patrick says they are also launching a clergy task force to help spread community information and tackle issues, like crime, through youth outreach. 

Their last task force is a blight task force. 

When driving through the north side of town, Deleasha Smith says it's not uncommon to see a blighted building. She sees it daily on her drives to work.

"You just roll your eyes, because it's just bad," Smith said.

She says not only does the blight impact her mood, but it impacts businesses. 

"You just see it every day. It's restaurants leaving. They just lost Hardee's on North Davis," Smith said. 

She has lived in the city for about 20 years and says the change is disappointing. 

"It never was like that growing up. On that side of town, it looks a lot worse. I don't see any improvement," Smith said.

Now, the city is working to correct this through a blight task force. The goal is for these members to report blight and come up with solutions to reduce it.

"We have work to do and we're going to remove it as quickly as possible," Patrick said.

Mayor Patrick says the buildings could just be renovated but she'd like to see them knocked down and rebuilt.

"We'd love to see the blight replaced with residential properties especially today when affordable housing, workforce housing is scarce in our city," Patrick said.

Only nine people will be appointed members, but Patrick says everyone is encouraged to attend meetings and share input. These members can't make any decisions without mayor and council approval.

"We want to hear from you, we are here to serve you, we want to hear what you want so we can meet your need," Patrick said.

Smith says she's glad the community has a chance to get involved, but hopes the city stays consistent in the blight fight.

"At the end of the day, it all starts with us, but it's just putting in effort. Once you do it, are you gonna continue to do it? That's the thing about it, because you can start doing something and then you can just stop. I've seen it happen way too many times," Smith said.

Patrick says we can see appointments to the boards and task forces as early as Aug. 21. She expects it to take a few weeks to get them fully staffed.

If you're interested in joining one of the teams, there are board interest forms on the city's website, or you can reach out to your city council member.

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