Albany city commissioners delay the renewal of ATI's contract - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany city commissioners delay the renewal of ATI's contract

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February 7, 2007

Albany--Albany city commissioners delayed a vote on whether to renew their contract with Albany Tomorrow Incorporate.

ATI leaders say they can't continue to oversee downtown development without the city's support.

But some city leaders want to make sure taxpayers are getting their money's worth before they sign another deal.

ATI has played a vital role in spear-heading the revitalization of downtown.

"ATI has been an integral part of downtown development, probably one of the most important parts of downtown development."

But new ATI interim president Greg McCormack says the future of the organization is uncertain without continued support of local governments.

"There's been an issue with ATI receiving money from the city and from the county," he says.

However, ATI leaders are trying to do something about that problem. They've submitted Albany city commissioners a proposal requesting a new two year contract and continued funding of $150,000, that proposal also makes several recommendations.

"The primary recommendation was to hire the downtown manager under ADICA," he says.

Something city commissioner Bob Langstaff agrees with.

"The downtown merchants have been clamoring for a downtown manager for a long time," says Langstaff.

"There are a lot of things a downtown manager does. One of the biggest things is to bring traffic to downtown," says Langstaff.

The proposal lists five recommendations in all. But commissioners question whether they need to continue the current funding level for ATI.

"We need to identify what exactly we want ATI to do," says Langstaff.

Over the next 18 months the city will give ATI $500,000 dollars in SPLOST money as development fees for specific projects that are getting under way. ATI also wants to renew its management contract with the city for another $150,000 per year.

"That's a total of $650,000. Nothing was presented as to where the $500,000 is going to go and why they need an extra $150,000 for ATI to do their job," says Langstaff.

McCormack says the reason for the additional funding is simple:

"If there is to be any continuation of ATI in development, they're going to need the funding from the city and the county.  I think downtown is at a critical stage to go forward. It probably needs more investment rather than less investment," he says.

As contract negotiations continue between the city and ATI continue, McCormack remains optimistic that the two will reach an agreement.

"I feel confident that ATI will continue to exist in a very similar form that exists now," he says.

Because the future of downtown Albany depends on it.

ATI also recommends forming a team of downtown merchants and city leaders to communicate closely on ways to enhance downtown.

Feedback: news@walb.com?Subject=ATIContractRenewal