The Union Recorder

January 15, 2014

Georgia General Assembly to vote on issue with local impact

The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Georgia General Assembly kicked off the 2014 legislative session this week. While the biggest of the concerns state lawmakers face is approval of a new budget, there are other pieces of legislation that could have an impact locally.

Due to this year’s early primary dates in Georgia, the session will be shorter. And while this looks to be an impending light year with regards to potentially controversial legislation in the shortened session and with it being an election year, there are issues to be weighed in Atlanta that could have a trickle down impact on Baldwin County. Most notably are pieces of legislation that could affect what is to become of Central State Hospital’s campus.

One such piece of legislation, House Bill 495, would establish a new mechanism for repurposing the vacant hospital property.

Establishing easier property conveyance procedures will potentially give CSH redevelopment authorities the ability to negotiate and act on a potential tenant outside of the General Assembly. Essentially the bill could give local authorities the ability to negotiate and act on potential tenants.

Currently, it takes legislation passed during a three-month session at the beginning of each year to transfer property. Project potentials that come about during other times of the year have a prolonged process because they must go through the next session and General Assembly approval for property to be transferred, which could result in missed opportunities.

Recent developments out at the hospital complex bring into greater focus the potential CSH’s more than 200 buildings and 2,000 acres. Just last week a film crew utilized the area surrounding the Jones building for a television show production. Last year a movie film crew also shot footage on the campus. What is to come next for CSH and the work of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority will be impacted by proposed legislation during this year’s session. A lot of work has gone into this state property plan in advance of this year’s session in hopes that it will reap rewards for CSH redevelopment and for other state properties as well.