Skate park talks falter

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority is considering what to do with a skate park on the east side of the Flint River after contract negotiations with the authority's prime prospect collapsed.

Acting ADICA counsel Nathan Davis told board members Wednesday that Lane Rosen had decided that the board's terms didn't fit with his vision for the future of the facility.

Rosen had pitched a plan to ADICA to transform the park to one that included expanded attractions geared toward teens and family, including a zip line and possible water activities on the banks of the Flint.

But over the last few months, Davis reported to the board that negotiations had stalled. During the authority's June meeting, Davis said that Rosen took issue with the board's position of basing rent on gross rather than net sales and the length of the contract.

Attempts to reach Rosen for comment Wednesday night were unsuccessful.

Interim ADICA Director James Taylor told the board that the park, which is currently being operated under the supervision of the city's Recreation and Parks department, could stay open through the summer, but that the board would have take action on where to go from there.

"We can try to keep it open for the summer, but it's certainly an issue and I would advise the board, unless you all want to remain in the skate park business, that we try and get out of that business," Taylor said.

"Either we go all in or we get out," he said.

It's a discussion the board has had before.

When Taylor first brought the issue before the board following the restructuring of ADICA and the installation of new board members in January, the board decided to retain the property and see if tenants could be found to operate it.

Following that decision, the board named a committee to solicit and review proposals from prospective operators and make a recommendation. A proposal submitted by Rosen, who has experience in operating downtown businesses like the State Theatre, was selected as the only viable option.

The board did not vote to take any action, but Taylor recommended taking some course of action soon so that the property doesn't become a liability.

In other action, the board voted to create a committee to review ADICA's facade grant program and report on a possible rewrite of the program.

Already revamped in the wake of the Don Buie scandal in which prosecutors alleged Buie used the facade grant program to give out cash to some business owners inappropriately and, in some cases, illegally, the program is a stripped-down and highly scrutinized shell of its former self.

Board member Thelma Johnson asked that the board consider altering the program so that businesses that are awarded grants but close months afterward don't leave ADICA in the lurch.

Her idea was to change the grant program to a deferred loan program that would spread the note out over several months so that if a business moves or closes, ADICA would be less likely to be left holding a sign for an empty building.

After hearing her idea, the board voted to create a committee to review the program and bring back recommendations.

The board also voted to grant the owner of D.J.'s Barber and Salon on Jefferson Street a $200 extension on the $2,800 facade grant it had already awarded so that the business could incorporate electricity to its sign.

The board's current program is capped at $5,000 and is limited to improvements to the exterior of buildings. D.J. Barber and Salon used its grant funds for a sign that was recently installed, ADICA officials said.