Hampton residents want rec center, blight abatement in SPLOST V

Hampton resident Arley Lowe provides input at Monday’s Hampton SPLOST meeting as councilwoman Stephanie Bodie listens.

HAMPTON — Members of the Hampton community on Monday provided input for what they want to see in the city’s portion of SPLOST V.

The city of Hampton held a public meeting Monday for the City Council and city officials to hear requests from the public about their desires.

A top request from Hampton residents concerned a proposed recreation center in the area, preferably in the Hampton city limits or around it, with one resident specifically requesting it stay out of the area of Nash Farm Battlefield.

“Why not leave it open like Bud Kelley (Park)?” asked Bill Dodgen. “Nobody’s ever complained about Bud Kelley Park, and didn’t the county spend like $20 million on it? Why not leave Nash Farm an open park?”

Dodgen suggested that Coley Park, situated in the Hampton city limits, would be a great fit for a recreation center.

Dodgen said he would vote against a SPLOST, after years of supporting SPLOST referendums, if a recreation center wasn’t committed to the Hampton area, or to Coley Park.

Another resident, Esama Oliver, suggested the city try to do something to combat the blight in areas of Hampton, such as on Elm Street, near Main Street.

“There’s these brick buildings, they’re dilapidated, and it’s been that way for the longest time,” Oliver said.

Oliver asked if the city could get the money for demolition for the buildings.

Oliver also mentioned blighted areas in the vicinity of Rosenwald Drive near the Fortson Library, and stated that since she started coming to Hampton City Council meetings, she had yet to hear of any ideas for improving the area.

The meeting was not well attended by either the Hampton City Council or the Hampton community, with several councilmembers absent and much of the attendance coming from most of the regulars who attend the normally scheduled Hampton City Council meetings.

Councilmembers Errol Mitchell, Elton Brown and Ann Tarpley were not in attendance, but Tarpley’s absence was due to a family emergency.

Those in attendance expressed frustration over the poor attendance, with resident Linda Dodgen expressing her frustrations with Brown and Mitchell for not showing up.

One person who did show up, however, was District 2 Commissioner Dee Clemmons, who represents Hampton and other areas on the Henry County Board of Commissioners.

Clemmons expressed some frustration over not being able to meet with Hampton residents after Dodgen brought up a concern that Hampton had been the “stepchild” of the county for it not getting much in the way of county projects.

“I can’t do anything if the City Council won’t meet with me,” Clemmons said, noting that a portion of four cities is represented in her district.

“I’ve went to all the cities,” Clemmons said. “I met with Craig Elrod in McDonough. I met with Stockbridge about what projects to do together. Mayor (Steve) Hutchison and I have meetings scheduled.”

At the end of the meeting, City Manager Alex Cohilas said the meeting was intended to get “categories” of projects to be included on the SPLOST V referendum, noting there had been strong feedback for a recreation center.

Cohilas also said there would be another meeting organized by the city of Hampton before the city, along with the three others in Henry, meet with the county government to formulate an intergovernmental agreement for the referendum that will go on the November ballot.

That meeting between the four cities and the county is scheduled for June 28.

Government Reporter

A native of Hampton, Georgia, Joe Adgie has worked for the Valdosta Daily Times, Clayton News, Rockdale Citizen and Newton Citizen. Adgie joined the Henry Herald in April 2018.

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