Albany-- It's not going to be easy to squeeze even a dime for Albany's downtown development projects out of a proposed sales tax extension. City and county leaders have roughly $105 million to play with.
Albany Tomorrow leaders are asking for more than $27 million of it in new projects to enhance what's already happening downtown.
"I even took pictures with the turtles and it made me feel like a kid again!" laughs Sarah Washington, who is visiting from Ohio, snapping off pictures to remember a great trip. "I have been here for a month, and I have enjoyed it tremendously and I think the park is beautiful."
The park, paid for with sales tax money, has been well recieved. Now, downtown development leaders are asking for millions more to continue with the masterplan, including a bridge linking Albany State University to the activity downtown.
"It's just critical that we at some point get recognized for the value we bring to this community," said ASU President Dr. Portia H. Shields. "We are right downtown we are right here and to be closed off would be a travesty."
On the Albany Tomorrow wish list is nearly five million dollars for the Civil Rights Museum, and $6.5 million for Thronateeska Heritage Center. There is also more than $15 million to finish off the riverfront, including walkways and renovating the Bridgehouse.
"I think they know that that project is something they have already started and they own it and I think they will be looking at a very high priority to finish projects they have already begun," said ATI PresidentTommy Chatmon.
But, what projects are complete have visitors, like Sarah Washington, impressed. "Oh, I have to tell them about the beautiful scenery and also the University that is right near here and I enjoyed every minute of it! I'll hopefully come back again."
And its the repeat visitors that downtown is counting on for its survivial-- that and millions of dollars in SPLOST money. Albany State University is in negotiations to get Ray Charles memorabilia for a museum on campus.
ASU's president says that's another reason for the school to get a walkway linking campus to downtown.