City changes will start at the center, then spread out - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City changes will start at the center, then spread out

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February 27, 2008

Albany--  The city of Albany will get a makeover over the next several months. The city has a comprehensive plan to get rid of vacant and dilapidated buildings.

That overhaul will begin downtown but people in other parts of the city have complained about eyesores for years. They wonder when changes will come their way.

In the 2400 block of Leonard Avenue, vehicles drive by a huge pile of trash that spills out into the road. Just across the street, school kids walk by another pile.

From Ruthie Knowles' position on Hubert Avenue, she sees no way out.

"Looks like I'm kind of stuck," said Knowles.

This has been her neighborhood for more than 30 years. "When I first moved here, it was a pretty nice neighborhood but since then things have been pretty much going down," said Knowles.

Now when she walks out of her front door and looks to the right, she sees a boarded up home on Elsom Street. On that street alone, we found a total of three. Neighbors say they harbor crime.

"It's scary, very scary," said Knowles. City leaders agree.

"We're no longer going to just drive by and pretend like they don't exist," said Downtown Manager Don Buie.

But that new attitude about eyesores will start downtown and then spread to the South, West, North and East. "With two code enforcement officers aggressively addressing the blight issue downtown, we can take that same model and we can put that model in every ward in Albany Dougherty County," said Buie.

That means many undesired structures will come down. People who own some of these properties will have to register and either produce a plan, abate the property or forfeit it to the city.

"We have a very systematic approach that buildings can only stay boarded for six months and if it goes beyond six months then you have to come back and re-register that property," said Buie.

Knowles is ready for change and wants to see her street restored to it's appeal of three decades ago. "I hope. Or a little better," said Knowles.

She'll just have to hold out a little longer as the changes happen from the center on out.

City leaders will take a block by block approach to redevelopment and it will take some time. It'll be up to city commissioners to decide which area to move into once they make progress downtown.

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