ALBANY, GA (WALB) - City Commissioners voted 4 to 2 to provide funding needed to move the storm damaged Albany Museum of Art (AMA) downtown.
City leaders approved a one million-dollar deferred loan to the museum on Tuesday evening.
The funds will come from the Downtown Development Revolving Loan Fund.
The vote was met with some resistance from Commissioners Bobby Coleman and Jon Howard.
Howard explained it was not the right timing. He also stated he didn't have enough information to make an educated decision.
But he reiterated that he was not against the museum moving downtown.
Commissioner Coleman argued the money should be allocated where it's needed.
Commissioner BJ Fletcher, however, was a strong supporter.
She said its another step to making downtown Albany a destination city.
"Tourism is number one in this community and this is just a piece of the puzzle that we needed to ensure that our generation coming up will have success with living in a good community," said Commissioner Fletcher.
"We're excited to be apart of all of this. We think this is a time, this is a time for Albany. And I'm so proud of our city commissioners approving his and getting us one step closer," said AMA Executive Director Paula Williams.
Commissioner Fletcher also mentioned residents often complain about the lack of culture and art in the city.
She said the museum's move downtown is a perfect opportunity to address that concern.
AMA Executive Director Paula Williams said the arts make a difference in driving up students test scores.
She said students' exposure to art makes them more confident and productive citizens.
The AMA was closed after a destructive January storm tore off the roof and caused major damage.
Museum staff are looking at several buildings including the Albany Herald building on the corner of Pine Avenue and Washington Street.
But they still have a lot of fundraising to do to make the $7.5 million-dollar move happen.
City spokespersons sent out this media statement shortly after the vote.
"The Albany Board of City Commissioners showed strong support of the Albany Museum of Art's move to downtown with a vote to provide additional funding needed for the project, including a $1Million dollar deferred loan to the Museum from the Downtown Development Revolving Loan Fund. Relocation of the museum is estimated to cost more than $7Million. The Museum's Board of Directors requested support from both Dougherty County and the City of Albany.
On January 2, 2017, the City of Albany and Dougherty County experienced the first of what later became two horrendous storms. The Albany Museum of Art was initially thought to be a "total loss" as a result of that storm; but was later declared as having sustained significant damage to their building located at 311 Meadowlark Dr.
The initial thought of the Museum being declared a "total loss" immediately awakened the opportunity for them to be revived as a part of the Downtown Revitalization efforts. Latoya Cutts, Downtown Manager stated that "the Albany Museum of Art is an integral part of this community and today our Commissioners joined their Board of Directors in their commitment to the effort of making the museum's move to the "Heart of Downtown" a reality."
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