ATI wants yet another "gateway" - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ATI wants yet another "gateway"

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June 26, 2006

Albany -- Dougherty County commissioners are leery about putting more money into a gateway project, but ATI President Tommy Chatmon says a second gateway on Broad Avenue downtown won't cost as much as the Oglethorpe Arch.

Today, Chatmon asked county commissioners to move $65,000 in sales tax money, earmarked for the Bridge House renovation, to the gateway project.

Dougherty County spent $600,000 to build the gateway arch over Oglethorpe Boulevard and to construct these pillars at the Broad Avenue bridge. But project manager, ATI, says the gateways aren't done yet. Today President Tommy Chatmon asked county commissioners to give another $65,000 to the projects. 

"We're concerned about it," said County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard. "We're watching the nickels and dimes very closely."

County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard says he's hesitant to pump any more money into the gateways, especially the arch which cost more than $300,000.  "I think most folks would tell you that $306,000 to do that archway is a high, high number. And most of us can't understand that. That's a lot of money."

And commissioners heard a lot of complaints about the cost of the arch. But Chatmon tried to reassure commissioners that very little of the $65,000 would be spent on the arch.  "The arch is 99% complete," said Chatmon.

Inside the huge base of the arch, the City of Albany installed electronic equipment used for traffic engineering. The sales tax money would go towards building a door on the base so that equipment could be easily accessed. 

The largest portion of the money would go towards finishing the Broad Avenue gateway. These pillars will be turned into a World War One Memorial, and the area will be better landscaped.

The money would have to be reallocated from the Bridge House renovation project, but Chatmon said it won't put that project in jeopardy.  "There's ample funds to completely and very effective renovate and restore the Bridge House as visitor's welcome center," said Chatmon. 

Commissioners weren't convinced and told Chatmon they would have to discuss the projects more before handing over more taxpayer money. Chatmon said this request has nothing to do with the city's announcement that it plans to use $750,000 in sales tax money, allocated for Riverfront park improvements, to clean up contamination city property.

Chatmon says he's not sure how that will effect ongoing park projects.   

Also today, Dougherty County commissioners officially approved a budget that calls for no property tax increase. Here are some of the highlights of the $44 million budget. Employees will get a 2.5% raise. $25,000 will go to keep the James H. Gray Sr. Senior Center in east Albany open for at least a year.

There's another $25,000 included to pay for umpires for the youth baseball leagues.

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