Albany residents banning together to clean up historic neighborhood district

A dilapidated building in the Old Historic Northside District.
A dilapidated building in the Old Historic Northside District.(WALB)
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:01 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Neighbors in the Historic Old Northside neighborhoods in Albany are banning together to give their community an upgrade.

The initiative to help clean up the Old Historic Northside District started back in January. Organizers said they want to improve the quality of life for all who live there.

Business leaders and residents initially came together to build a neighborhood watch group because of the crime and drug activity they were seeing.

Fixing the many dilapidated properties in the area was also high on the agenda.

“For us, it entails, of course, the blighted properties,” Desmond Searcy, a neighborhood resident, said. “The unkept lot and things like that. It also entails the cleanliness, especially on the 10th Avenue corridor near the Rescue Mission. Another part of our issue is getting boarding houses. If there are boarding houses, get them properly regulated according to the regulations that are on the city books.”

Hugh Morris is an attorney in the area.

“A lot of these dilapidated properties are unkept, unclean,” Morris said. “People go inside to do whatever they want. They commit crimes. They live, they tear apart the walls, and they do drugs. And people are going in and out of these dilapidated properties and just making a mess. And we’re trying to get all of the dilapidated properties in this neighborhood cleaned up.”

This initiative was partially inspired by Phoebe Putney’s recent investment in the area.

“All those nurses and doctors that are coming to the new Living & Learning Center want to walk and jog and bike through this neighborhood,” Morris said. “They’re going to want to go to Downtown Albany. And they’re going to walk through the streets of this neighborhood and we’re just trying to get everything cleaned up as much as we can.”

Hugh Morris, left, is an attorney in the Old Historic Northside District  and Desmond Searchy,...
Hugh Morris, left, is an attorney in the Old Historic Northside District and Desmond Searchy, right, is an Instructor at Albany Technical College.(WALB)

Both Searcy and Morris said they believe dilapidated properties are a public safety concern.

Group leaders said they’re doing all they can to improve their community and they need help from the community and city leaders.

“One of our association members has gone to all of the properties in our footprint. He’s cataloged them, he’s taken pictures and gathered the addresses and information like that,” Searcy said. “And we submitted all that to the city so that they can go through their own records and do the necessary footwork of contacting the owners and moving forward like that.”

Group leaders even met with Albany City Commissioners recently.

“They did show an interest to partner with us and assist us in getting our neighborhood and our district cleaned up. And so at this point, we’ve given them all the information that they need,” Searcy said.

Blighted properties cause a lot of problems for neighbors, declining property values and an increase in crime. But neighbors can get involved.

“On a general basis, if they see something, say something,” Searcy said. “Contact the police. Make a report. Contact code enforcement if there’s any type of dilapidated properties in their area or in their neighborhood.”

There is no set timeline for these upgrades and organizers said it won’t happen overnight. But they say they’ll keep pushing until they get results.