Mayor pledges $25K, but commissioners won't budge - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mayor pledges $25K, but commissioners won't budge

Albany-- Mayor Dr. Willie Adams promises to loan the Parks at Chehaw $25,000 of his own money to get animal expert Jim Fowler on board, saying "There are those of us that want to see this thing work."

But commissioners and the city's staff are still split over loaning Chehaw $100,000 to help Fowler revamp the zoo.

The Parks at Chehaw Authority asked the city commission for a $100,000 loan to give the money to Jim Fowler, so he can begin fundraising to revamp the zoo and add a drive-thru safari.

"We are going to do everything we can to make sure this thing works," says Mayor Willie Adams, who wants the city to loan the money.

"At least give it a chance so if it works, fine. Or if it fails, people certainly can't look towards the city commission and say it failed because you should have done more."

In an effort to do more, the Mayor said he'd put up $25,000 dollars of his own to begin the Fowler-Chehaw partnership. Adams then publicly asked city commissioner, and opponent, Bo Dorough to do the same. "If they are as committed to this community as I am, even if they can't match what I offered, they can certainly offer something," said Adams.

"Certainly not for me, because I opposed to this proposal," said Dorough. Dorough doesn't want to give Chehaw the start up money because Jim Fowler initially promised not to ask the city for any money. Later, he asked the Chehaw Authority for $100,000 a year for five years.

City commissioners once again tabled the issue until they get more information from Chehaw.

Dorough also says city and county leaders say they want the park to thrive but haven't put up the money to make improvements. "You say there's nothing to see, and then the city and county commissioners aren't making the allocations through SPLOST to see these capital improvements. If you keep doing things the way you've done it, you're going to kept getting the same thing," said Dorough.

But the city's money manager and city manager say giving Chehaw the loan is fiscally irresponsible. City Manager Lem Edwards says Chehaw owes the city $300,000 and city commissioners should reconsider pumping more money into the park or into a name-- even if that name is Jim Fowler.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com