DT manager fights perception - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

DT manager fights perception

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Cafe 230 Cafe 230
Cynthia McClendon and Rev. Darvi Williams Cynthia McClendon and Rev. Darvi Williams

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  A fight inside Club Eclipse escalated into a shooting. The incident has the attention of Albany's Downtown Manager and Downtown Business Owners who've been trying to change the perception that downtown is dangerous.

They're not going to stand for this type of activity downtown. Police believe it is an isolated incident. Still downtown businesses owners are asking code enforcement to step up and get rid of downtown's blacked out windows, that could be hiding dangerous behavior.

Business owners were making calls to the Mayor, Police, and Code Enforcement. They say police are riding the streets downtown, they've added camera to make people feel safe, now they need to get rid of blacked out windows, to get rid of activity that shouldn't be going on.

The shooting outside Club Eclipse in downtown Albany early Sunday morning has the attention of Albany's Downtown Manager Aaron Blair, who's been attracting new business and trying to turn around the perception that downtown isn't safe. 

"It's just not something that's going to be acceptable as we move forward," Blair said.

 Business owners agree. They say they feel for the man who was attacked and understand people want clubs downtown, but they say violence there can't be tolerated. They say it starts with the business owners and landlords. 

"If you own a building downtown, could you please come down here and clean up your building and help us out because we're trying to do our part, and I'm upset about it," said B. J. Fletcher of Cafe 230 and the General Store.

Business owners also want Code Enforcement to enforce the city ordinance that makes it illegal for any business to black out their windows. "Anytime you've got to cover up your windows, something is going on in there that shouldn't be going on," said Fletcher.

They want police to be able to see inside. Club Eclipse's windows are blacked out, along with several other businesses. Those we talked to downtown today say one incident isn't going to stop them.

"We walked the streets this morning and felt safe, we think is was just like the police said-- an incident that just happened." said Rev. Darvi Williams, Downtown Patron.

"It's something that we all just have to work through it and I think everything will be okay once we talk about things," said Downtown Patron Cynthia McClendon.

They're encouraged by what they've seen in the way of new businesses. Downtown Manager Aaron Blair says there will always be naysayers, but he says this incident will just make those who love downtown Albany fight that much hard for its success.

Some asked why 17 and 19 year olds were allowed inside the club that is clearly marked 'over 21.'

Code enforcement and Albany police have been asked to investigate. Looking at the crime statistics for downtown, in January the Central District which downtown Albany falls under had 8 robberies, 11 aggravated assaults, and 108 property crimes, although a major of those incidents fell outside the downtown area.

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