The Dray Line... What's the harm? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The Dray Line... What's the harm?

January 30, 2007

Albany - A lot of towns have a gathering place where day laborers gather in hopes of getting work. In Albany, it's called the Dray Line and it's been around for years. But some say the Dray line is bad for business and the city needs to enforce laws already in place.  

Day laborers have stood at the corner of Roosevelt and Washington since the '40's trying to find work. Earl Jackson is one of them.  He gets here every morning at 7:00 and waits. He says, "Any day, it all depends on who comes. Some days don't nothing come. Some days some come. It ain't guaranteed, ain't promised to you." Jackson says he's just trying to find a job, earn a living.

He says, "Sometimes we catch breaks, sometimes we don't."

But where he's trying to catch that break is a problem for some downtown merchants. "I believe it's an eyesore to the community," says Steve Brimberry.  He says though the Dray Line may offer a helping hand to a select few, it's a stumbling block for the community.

Brimberry says, "We're catering to six or seven people and it looks bad for all the other progress."

The area at Roosevelt and Washington is unsightly. There's litter on the ground, a fire almost constantly burning in a barrel, but are the day laborers who gather here for work, really doing any harm?

Mary Beth Hobby says, "No, they are not doing any harm that I've seen. We work across the street from them. They are nice and polite gentlemen when we see them. They stay to themselves, they keep to themselves. Does it look bad, yeah, but are they harmful? Not that I've seen."

But there are laws being broken. Littering, burning trash piles and treated wood. Brimberry says people were even using the bathroom on the empty lot, in plain site.

Brimberry says, "We even provide them an outhouse." A city ordered toilet. He says there's too much tolerance for people junking up the city when there needs to be more enforcement.  He says, "Codes have been in place to take care of and we're not doing anything about it."

Assistant City Manager James Taylor says they are doing something about it though. Reviewing the ordinances and reaching out to local churches and community centers to see how they can help the dray line workers while satisfying downtown stakeholders.

In 2003, the city did try to clean up the Dray Line. The chairs and tables were cleaned out and signs were posted warning the day workers not to stay there past noon. Those strict guidelines didn't last very long, and the signs are now simply ignored.  

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