City and county leaders have a stimulus wish list - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City and county leaders have a stimulus wish list

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By Len Kiese - bio | email  

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Senate passed the economic recovery plan Tuesday. It adds up to about $838-billion but it actually cuts billions of dollars the House planned to send directly to states.

Still, a lot of money may still be pumped into Georgia. Albany and Dougherty County leaders came up with a wish list for federal money.

The thinking wheels began turning back in January. "It became clear that the federal government was going to put together some sort of stimulus package," said Albany Assistant City Manager Wes Smith.

As the nation's lawmakers prepared to debate the stimulus plan, local leaders wanted to make sure Albany and Dougherty County weren't excluded. "We met with the county and their leadership and discussed how we should best pursue this," said Smith.

The school system was also brought in and ideas began pouring out about what projects each department felt was necessary. "We put together a list of projects both shovel ready which seems to be the key term, meaning ready for construction in 180 days, as well as some projects that are further out," said Smith.

That full list adds up to nearly $80-million in proposals. "Anything that we thought would help the community. We need the jobs. We need to create activity in our county," said Smith.

The wish list includes $35 million for school improvements including renovations at three Dougherty County schools including Albany High. "That can be a real charge in the arm for the community and the system itself," said Smith. There's more than $27 million for road, street and bridge improvements.

Eight possibilities include improvements to the Old Dawson Road and East Doublegate intersection for $750,000. $7.5 million would renovate the Broad Avenue bridge. $12,000 would widen parts of Gillionville Road.

"Not only would that be good for transportation itself but it can also be stimulus to further development in the private sector, things that might encourage new developments, new construction, things of that nature," said Smith.

Nearly $9-million would go to sanitation and storm projects. But with all these plans in place, some economists worry that the state as a whole won't get enough.

"There's been negotiation in the Senate to cut 4$0 billion going to states. I think that could have a devastating long-term impact," said Johnson. "I think it's a misnomer when they say that a lot of these initiatives being cut aren't stimulative."

City leaders say they've worked hard to stand out with their list which was delivered to state and federal lobbyists well before the House first began hashing out a stimulus plan. "So we feel well positioned," said Smith. So if their position and preparation pays off, construction on some of these projects could begin in a few months.

Here's a look at some of the other projects on the local wish list for federal recovery money:

The Parks at Chehaw wants $1-million  to renovate the park entry, bring a waterfront camping area and an outdoor amphitheater.

Under public safety, a little more than $2-million could help complete Albany's Regional Fire Training Center.

Leaders are asking for nearly $3.5-million for transportation improvements including $127,000  to enhance security at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

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