Demolition formally began Monday in one of Macon’s oldest and largest public housing projects, Tindall Heights.
During a ceremony that could have looked like a groundbreaking from a distance, officials and politicians swung golden sledgehammers to break the first piece of the project’s red brick.
For longtime educator and former Bibb County School Board President, Thelma Dillard, the day was bittersweet.
“I'm here today because I want to see the ending of my beginning,” she said.
Dillard was brought here as a baby not long after Tindall Heights opened in the 1940s. She said some of the kids she grew up with went on to own businesses and become college presidents.
“It was a launching pad for greatness,” Dillard said.
Historic photos framed and mounted on easels showed the tarpaper roofs and dirt streets the New Deal era construction replaced. Tracy Barlow says Tindall Heights was top notch by comparison. As good as anything else you could find in Macon. But by 1960 when he started working here in maintenance, the electrical system was out of date.
“People couldn’t even run air conditioners,” he said.
In fact there has never been central air conditioning in Tindall Heights.
After all the politicians got their swing, Thelma Dillard took hers. It took her a second to heft the the hammer, but she finally connected.
“I got it,” she said with a smile as she put down the hammer.
Tyra Tate was right behind her for her turn. Tate and her daughters just moved away from Tindall Heights with the help of a Section 8 Tenant Protection Voucher.
“We moved to a nice, new peaceful safe neighborhood and I'm just....I'm so happy about that,” Tate said. “It makes me want to cry.”
All Tindall Heights residents are getting the same voucher and the same chance to move.
The Macon Housing authority expects about a third of Tindall Heights to be gone by sometime this summer, making way for new senior citizen housing.