Waynesboro Residents Reject "Slum" Status - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Waynesboro Residents Reject "Slum" Status

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Waynesboro, GA - City leaders in Waynesboro must go back to the drawing board after citizens expressed their concerns about the language in a grant that could help revitalize certain areas.

Waynesboro City Council held a public hearing to discuss changes to the Urban Redevelopment Plan.  The city wants to increase from $800,000 to $1.6 million by applying more often. The catch is the areas mapped out by the city would be deemed slum.

“For us the biggest affect it will have is allow us to apply for Community Development Block Grants every year versus every other year,” said City Manager Jerry Coalson.

There is one word that bothered a lot of people: SLUM.  The city chose certain areas to revitalize and despite the improvements that could come from more money, residents were uneasy about the terminology.

Waynesboro resident Leon Bynes said, “All of the neighborhood of the people who look like me is in slums.”

Another resident, Bill Alston told the council the stigma does not have to be accepted.  He said, “Waynesboro doesn’t really have slums like the big cities have.”

The grant, which stems from the 1955 State of Georgia Urban Redevelopment Act, made some residents feel like their neighborhoods in the bird dog capital of the world are deemed detrimental. 

City Attorney Christopher Dube told the public, “Are we crazy about that word, no.  Would we like to use some other word?  Yes.  But unfortunately based on the statue, that’s what the statue requires.”

Coalson said the areas of town were chosen because they showed the highest need for revitalization.  He said the CDBG grant from last year fixed the 9th Street sewer system and fixed roads.

“We applied April 1 for a grant to replace sewer water and change the roads in the Savannah Avenue area,” Coalson said.

But citizens told the council the need should not come at the cost of being labeled negatively.   

Bynes said, “Until I can see report that tells me exactly what projects or a priority list, it’s not way in the world I can see the citizens of Waynesboro taking this.”

The council voted to post pone taking action on the Urban Redevelopment Plan until further notice.  They told the public they would redraw the map and bring the plan back to them. 

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