April 1, 2008
Back on December 7th, hundreds of people celebrated the opening of Albany's newest attraction. A cross-section of the community turned out for the dedication of Ray Charles Plaza, a downtown gem that should make us all proud.
In the months since then, the park honoring Albany's hometown music legend hasn't performed as planned. At best, it's been a disappointment. At worst, it's been an embarrassment. Finally, city leaders stepped up to turn things around.
From the beginning, there were problems at the plaza. The statue didn't rotate. The fountain didn't work. The sound system routinely got stuck on the same song. Getting answers from Albany Tomorrow about the problems and when they would be fixed was nearly impossible.
When the problems got downright dangerous, the city took action.
Paint on the sidewalks posed a slipping hazard. Handrails weren't installed. But when an electrical problem posed a shocking hazard, the city manager's office threatened to shut the park down unless the contractor fixed the problems immediately.
It shouldn't have come to that, but we applaud the city for finally getting tough and getting things done.
The city will soon conduct a final inspection to make sure a few remaining minor problems are fixed. If they are, the city will take ownership of the park. We hope that happens, and we hope the city maintains the plaza properly so that Ray Charles Plaza will be a place we can all be proud to visit.