Oglethorpe Gateway criticized by Dougherty Commissioners - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Oglethorpe Gateway criticized by Dougherty Commissioners

March 20, 2006

Albany - Dougherty County leaders drill the President of Albany Tomorrow about the cost and look of the new downtown gateway. County commissioners say people are complaining that the arch, over Oglethorpe Boulevard, isn't attractive and was a waste of taxpayer's money.

The Oglethorpe Gateway was designed to welcome visitors to downtown Albany, but Dougherty County commissioners say they're hearing more bad than good about the new project.

Commissioner Lamar Hudgins said, "They don't like the location, and they don't like the way it looks."

But not everyone is a critic. "I think it's beautiful," said one visitor from Florida.

In fact, everyone we interviewed Monday liked the arch.

"I think it's pretty," said an Albany mother. "I know some people have had negative things to say about it, but I think it's great."

"Anything that draws attention, I think is good for the City," echoed another dad.

"It kind of looks like a roller coaster," said a six year old girl.

Like it or not, Dougherty County Commissioners drilled ATI President Tommy Chatmon about the cost of the project.

Hudgins said, "It's basically a pipe truss, from what I can see."

Commissioner Lamar Hudgins questioned why the design and construction cost more than $306,000.

"I just don't see why the costs would be that and also for the design fees to be as high as they are," said Hudgins.

"There's a lot more structural requirements from an engineering standpoint," said Tommy Chatmon.

Chatmon says the steal arch and massive pillars, that hold it up, are more expensive than you might think.

"Building something that is completely unique, like a Gateway designed for that location for this City only from scratch, is a completely different exercise."

Chatmon says the City o-kayed the design, and ATI choose the lowest bid on the project which was lumped in with other Riverfront Park improvements. He says the project wasn't a waste of money.

"It public art, and public art always elicits a wide range of opinions," said Chatmon.

Chatmon also insists that the DOT never told ATI that Oglethorpe Boulevard would definitely be widened. But according to the DOT, when the city received the permit to build the arch, they agreed that they would reallocate or remove any installation or construction placed on the state right of way.

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