County approves Central Square rehab funds

ALBANY -- Criticism of the work performed under the direction of Albany Tomorrow Inc. continued Monday as the Dougherty County Commission approved the reallocation of $190,000 in Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax IV funds for exterior rehab of the downtown Central Square complex originally funded through the special tax.

"Simply put, the contractors that were chosen did not do the kind of job they should have," Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said after the board's morning meeting. "For a building no older than that one to be leaking now speaks to the inefficiency of the work done.

"And since the company that did the work is no longer in business, there's no way to get restitution for the harm that's been done. With no one to make it right, our choices were to get the building fixed or to let the weather damage and leaks continue. We had to get the building fixed."

Sinyard said because county officials had carefully monitored the use of SPLOST funds, the money needed to make repairs on Central Square was available.

"The good news to taxpayers is that the county has been able to save money on other SPLOST projects, and that has left the funds available to make these repairs," he said. "Obviously, we would prefer to use this money for a new project, but we're in a position where we have to get this work done now."

County Administrator Richard Crowdis allowed Monday that work on the complex was no longer under warranty, but he said efforts to contact the contractor who partnered with ATI on the project had been fruitless.

"ATI served as our agent, and they partnered with Albany Redevelopment Partners LLC," Crowdis said. "We sent a letter to (Albany Redevelopment Partners) around the end of November or the first of December (when mounting problems with the structure were noted), and they haven't responded. We sent a certified letter with return receipt but never got a response.

"We're at a point where we can't delay any longer; the longer we delay, the more deterioration we're going to have."

Dwayne Greene, the county's interim facilities management director, said work on the Central Square complex -- which also includes the East and West parking garages and came with a $15,420,000 price tag -- was completed in 2002.

"I can't say that all of the repair work will be on the roof of the building," Greene commented when asked about the leaking roof that Sinyard mentioned. "There are problems with the entire exterior envelope of the building, and that points not to just roofing problems."

In other action at Monday's meeting, the Commission approved the allocation of $43,806 from its Capital Improvements Program budget for the purchase of two Dodge Charger police pursuit vehicles that will be used by the county police department. Low bidder on the vehicles was Butler Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

Commissioners also OK'd a one-day alcohol license for a Girls Inc. fundraiser March 13 at Stonebridge Golf and Country Club.

Commissioner Jack Stone continued his personal crusades against texting while driving and sagging pants, encouraging the Commission to pursue ordinances outlawing both practices.

"The state (Legislature) is looking into a number of laws that address using cell phones and such devices while driving," Sinyard said. "My concern is that whatever law is put in place, it should be enforcable. I'm not sure I've heard proposals that would offer the best use of our law enforcement personnel.

"As for people wearing baggy pants, that's a social issue that I hope parents would fix. If we put any kind of ordinance in place that says how someone can dress, I think it would be tough to make it constitutional and I don't know how we would go about enforcing it. These kinds of issues must be looked at carefully."