City leaders question funding Albany Tomorrow - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City leaders question funding Albany Tomorrow

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April 16, 2008

Albany -- Downtown's Ray Charles Plaza is the latest Albany Tomorrow project to open, but city leaders want to make some landscaping changes before they take control of the new park.

"We are working to try to finalize what that look is going to be from an erosion control measure," said Senior Project Manager, Kenneth Cribb.

Since that wasn't part of the initial project, the city will have to pay for the changes. Commissioner Bob Langstaff says the city could have handled the whole project itself. "We've got a large engineering department at the City of Albany, and we have qualified people to do that kind of work."

Langstaff voted against Albany's city budget last year because it included money for ATI. He thinks the city needs to stop funding Albany Tomorrow. 

"We have two cooks in the kitchen. We have one, Don Buie and a lot of people believe in his vision for downtown and I think we need to just run with it instead of having a fragmented approach," said Langstaff.

Other commissioners disagree. "If the city backs away from ATI, it would reduce the power that the citizens would have. I don't believe in abandoning the whole program just because you had a situation," said Ward IV City Commissioner, Tommie Postell.

Commissioner Postell looks at ATI as one of the city's valuable resources. "We need someone on the outside to help promote it, and I just feel that's not a waste of money."

"There are some smart talented people who care about downtown who are on the ATI board that can be an asset, but that doesn't mean we need to give them $150,000 in funding from the city," said Langstaff.

ATI Board Member John White says ATI has done good work and can continue to help downtown grow. "Our partnership is paramount in that we must work together to be able to build Albany in what we think it ought to be."

And Albany Tomorrow wants to continue to be a part of what Albany becomes tomorrow. Right now ATI is overseeing five ongoing projects. The Bridge House renovation should be finished next. It's expected to open this summer.

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