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Proposed initiatives may grow Albany's economy

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The citizens group that led the successful push to bring a four-year nursing program to Darton College is moving on to other projects.

The members have three new initiatives they say will improve Albany's economy and make the city a better place to live.

The group wants to bring an antique market downtown. It also wants a water park to help us withstand the abrasive summers. Members want to see I-185 extended from Columbus through Albany. It's all in efforts to bring more business and development to town.

Endeah Martin and her buddies enjoy the water downtown at Riverfront Park, but they'd really like to zip down some water slides.

"It would be fun for us because it's so hot in the summer," said Martin.

Citizens for Economic Development Co-chair Glenn Tennyson wants to make that happen. He's talking with USA Slide - a Georgia based company that builds commercial and residential slides.

"I think we would work modestly," said Tennyson. "We don't want to bite off more than we can chew. We want to be a boost to the community."

That's a mid-term project. A more short term initiative is an antique market where vendors can set up in vacant buildings downtown.

They want to open the new antique market near Broad avenue and Washington street to bring more people into downtown Albany.

Tennyson has already brought up the Scott's type Market idea with Downtown Manager Aaron Blair.

"Antiques are a huge draw for people," said Blair. "Anytime we have an event that will bring a cross section of the community, we want to do that."

Downtown Farm Market Manager Debra Monroe works near the proposed area.

"I think it would be nice and good for Albany," said Monroe.

Another good move for Albany, according to Tennyson, is an Interstate -185 extension from Columbus to Albany.

"One of the biggest challenges, when a company looks at Albany, is we don't have an interstate," Tennyson added.

Tennyson says the opening of the new Cordele inland port could bring 250,000 more tractor trailers on 1-75, grid locking traffic. The I-185 extension would open another route to Atlanta.

The citizens organization hopes to see more foot traffic come to Albany. Kids say they can't wait to enjoy a summer with a water park to cool off. It's just one more potential revenue source for the city.

The nearest water park is about two hours away at Wild Adventures. With summers starting out as hot as this week, the citizens would like to see a closer option.

Tennyson wants to see the proposed antique market open in late summer or early fall. It could be open quarterly then more frequently once it's established.

Group leaders also plan to lobby state and federal lawmakers to try to get them on board with the proposed interstate project.