Safety concerns in Columbus Civic Center parking lot addressed

Some say they often hear loud music or see people doing donuts in the parking lot
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 10:51 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Cars are at the center of a controversy in the Fountain City. Tonight, residents and officials gathered for a public meeting to discuss safety concerns at the Columbus Civic Center.

The meeting comes after several complaints about what city leaders are calling vehicle disturbances on weekends.

Robert Landers, Director of the Civic Center says they’ve documented four incidents of illegal gatherings in the parking lot.

For weeks and even months, people living near the Columbus Civic Center say they often hear loud music coming from the parking lot on weekends. During a public meeting Thursday night...residents voiced concerns to officials like Mayor Skip Henderson...police Chief Freddie Blackmon...Civic Center Director Robert Landers....and City Manager Isaiah Hugley.

Another problem -- illegal gatherings where people allegedly do donuts in the parking lot.

“Over the last year...we’re probably talking about four events that are actually documented,” said Landers.

But Landers says Columbus Civic Center security cannot do much beyond calling local law enforcement to investigate. Their primary responsibility is screening those coming into the building.

“I found diapers in the parking lot. I’ve found old rims maybe from a car that was doing one of the burnouts,” said Michael Denehy, who lives a mile away.

Some of the solutions suggested include posting signs or turning the gatherings into something positive.

“I’d like to have a list of do’s and don’ts and maybe post those,” said City Manager Isaiah Hugley adamant that the city will catch those doing this.

“Maybe creating an actual civic center event out of it where maybe we’re getting community businesses involved,” said Jenny Teague who’s also on the Civic Center’s advisory board.

Some officials also mentioned installing high-tech cameras, first announced in December.

“These are 360-degree cameras, these are tag reading cameras, these are cameras with night vision,” said Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin.

The city is currently 70% complete with phase one of installing those cameras. Some of the mobile cameras will be placed in high-crime areas. The other half will be placed in areas where lots of illegal dumping occurs.

City officials say they plan to discuss some of the suggestions to make the Civic Center safer. Officials say phases two and three of installing those cameras will include placing them around facilities like the Civic Center.