More than 110 residents gathered at the “Let’s Talk With the Mayor” forum Thursday, seeking answers for more football stadiums, job opportunities for non-violent offenders, updates on area road projects and new events for young people.
The forum in Council Chambers at the City Services Center was hosted by the Columbus Youth Advisory Council as city officials reached out to the Millennial generation, those born during the 1980s and 1990s.
Frank Lumpkin IV, who runs track at Columbus High, was interested in getting more football stadiums for the city in a town that only has two stadiums for high school games at Kinnett Stadium and A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium. Lumpkin, a senior, said it’s kind of a crazy phenomenon the city shares two stadiums. With construction ongoing at Kinnett Stadium, Lumpkin said Columbus holds track meets at Hardaway High which only has a track.
“I just feet like we need more high school stadiums so we can have football games on Friday night and we can have track at a real stadium,” he said.
Although he attends Columbus High, Lumpkin said it would be great to build a new stadium at Lakebottom Park. “I just think it brings attractions to Midtown,” he said. “It would be something to do in Midtown, and it’s right in the heart of Columbus.”
Jerome Austin, who was in trouble at age 16, said people who are leaving the prison system or placed on parole need an opportunity to get a job. They now face obstacles in housing and finding employment.
In her six years leading the city, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said the city no longer asks an applicant about their past, but there are criminal background checks and drug screenings as part of the employment process. The conversation has changed. “We are leading by example,” she said.
Austin said “You still need a chance.”
Chasity Murray, a junior at Shaw High School, asked the mayor what could be done to keep teens out of trouble. Chasity said she goes to Atlanta and other events when possible.
Tomlinson noted gaming teams are catching on in some cities. “They compete for championships,” she said. “That is along the lines of festivals. Some cities are looking like that.”
Chasity said the fair comes to Columbus each year, but it seems to get smaller and smaller.
When it comes to roads and community development, James Nelson of Columbus wanted to know why there isn’t a Cusseta Road exit off of Interstate 185. The mayor said it wasn’t possible when the lane construction was considered but it may be possible with the TSPLOST.
“Sometimes you’ve got to listen to the community,” Nelson said after the forum. “Sometimes you’ve just got to go forward with what best for the growth of the city.”
During a visit to Greenville, S.C., recently, Nelson said the city has really turned around. “We’ve got to shoot for different goals now,” he said. “It’s time. I just came out of Greenville and Charlotte. We’ve got to come with it.”