Ray Charles Plaza To Be Continued... - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ray Charles Plaza To Be Continued...


December 27, 2007

Albany - - A new downtown Albany landmark is already running into some problems. Earlier this month, the community celebrated the opening of a new park honoring the late music legend, Ray Charles. But the park really wasn't finished and some kinks mean the centerpiece isn't performing as planned. 

If you take a visit to the statue, you'd probably think something is missing. That's if you knew the city's plans for the Ray Charles Park. City leaders say those plans are coming, they just aren't here yet.

For Joe James, a trip to the new Ray Charles Plaza is a family affair.

"The wife, the kids, grand kids and son," he points out.

All together to enjoy a piece of living history right in their own city.

"I think it's really great. I don't think it could've been done any better," James says.

But to his surprise, it actually does get better than this.

"The contractors were able to get the park completed to a point that we could have a celebration," says Cullena Morman with Albany Tomorrow.

She says the group is hard at work to make sure all of their initial plans for the park come to pass.

Right now there's just one of Charles' songs playing, but when the project is complete, the songs will actually rotate, there will be flashing lights and of course a fountain will surround it all.

Making it work takes trial and error.

"Were trying to get it synchronized so we'll have lights, music, rotation all together, so yes there are some things we are working on," Morman says.

On top of that, city leaders have their check list of things they want to see ATI complete. 

"Were wanting to do additional seating in the park. Were wanting additional lighting in the park so there are still some things were working out," she said.

So why weren't all these things taken care of before the community welcomed the legend to town?

"We had planned to do it a couple of months earlier so we had already began to talk with the different artists that were going to come down and perform and we didn't want to keep changing the dates because then we'd have to go back and re-do contracts," Morman told us.

But she is convinced it will all work out. 

Some visitors like James were already impressed when the structure was unveiled.

"Oh yes, it's good," he said.

The city of Albany will take over the maintenance of the park once ATI's work is complete. But of course, city leaders are waiting on ATI to finish its end of the deal before they step in. 

ATI says contractors will be back at work after the New Year. They expect the modifications to be done in two to three weeks.

ATI is also working on other major projects including the new Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Civil Rights Museum expansion, and a planetarium and Discovery Center at Thronateeska.

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