Crime concern causes statue removal - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Crime concern causes statue removal

The small Ray statue is in a drawer, for now. The small Ray statue is in a drawer, for now.

January 28, 2008

Albany   --  Crime worries forced Albany Tomorrow Officials to remove the small Ray Charles Statue from the Riverfront Park. The fountain around the large statue at the Ray Charles Plaza was vandalized this weekend.

Now officials are asking the community to help protect the Plaza from crime.

The pedestal where the small Ray Charles statue was mounted at the Plaza in Riverfront Park is now empty, because of crime concerns. The new home for the bronze statue is in a desk drawer.

Albany Tomorrow Incorporated Senior Project Manager Ken Cribb said "My concern and worry about it, it is metal. And we don't want to get the idea they could take and do away with it."

The foot-tall statue was designed so that visually impaired visitors to the Plaza could feel and experience for themselves what the large statue honoring the blind Albany native is like. But ATI officials became so concerned that the small statue might be stolen, they removed it themselves for safe keeping.

Then sometime this weekend someone threw soap powder in the fountain around the statue, causing a sea of bubbles surrounding Ray. Now the fountain will have to be drained and cleaned, then refilled.

"It's useless and it costs all the taxpayers additional money, to just put soap suds in their to prove a point or gain recognition," Cribb said.

Officials plan to put the small Ray Charles Statue at the Bridge House, for a more safe location, when it opens in April. They plan to mount a plaque on the pedestal where it was mounted, telling people where it will be located. Until then it will stay locked up, out of sight, and people who enjoy the Plaza say they miss it.

 "It's said, it's really, really sad, that people have just got so mean," Johnny Leggett said.

A.T.I. Officials say they hope the entire community will help protect the Ray Charles Plaza and the Riverfront Park. They ask if you see anyone vandalizing the Park, call Police.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=CharlesPlazaVandalism-JW

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