ALBANY, Ga. — The Albany City Commission failed to reach a four-vote consensus to move forward with a $9 million transit center project Tuesday, with some on the board signaling a desire to scrap the project entirely.
The city and state have been required by the Federal Transit Administration to conduct an extensive archaeological dig of the proposed site for the center between Roosevelt and Flint Avenues.
Tuesday, the commission was presented with the contract for the services, which would likely be awarded to GT Hill Planners Corp. of Tucker, on an “as-needed” basis up to a maximum of $590,000.
“With any luck, we won’t come anywhere near this figure,” Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said.
The requirement from the Feds comes after a preliminary review of the area revealed tools believed to be from a Native American settlement near the area were present near the site.
Before construction can begin, the FTA is requiring that the area be more thoroughly examined with any discoveries cataloged and presented to the Muscogee Tribe of the Creek Nation.
But as discussion on the matter progressed, commissioners expressed their reservations with moving forward.
Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta said he was concerned that there was only one bidder for the contract before making a motion to table the decision on awarding the contract for a month until more could be done to reach out to prospective bidders including his recommendation of advertising in other metro areas of the state.
That motion failed for a lack of a second.
Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike questioned the need to move forward with the project at all, saying that he has heard few positive comments about it since he first took office.
“I can’t understand why we’re moving forward with it when commissioners are uncomfortable with it, when property owners are uncomfortable with it, and when constituents are uncomfortable with it,” Pike said. “I don’t see the value in this location.”
Since the project is funded with roughly $4 million coming from federal stimulus dollars, the city and state have until September 2013 to spend the money or lose it, Smith said.
If the commissioners choose to pull the plug on the current proposed location, they could feasibly choose one of the sites considered previously, but city officials say they’d have to “start from scratch,” which would likely mean the loss of funding.
The city is currently renting the transit facility on Oglethorpe Boulevard using funds provided by the Federal Transit Administration — funds that are set to expire once the new transit center is built.
Following discussion, the commission voted 3-2 to table the matter. Since the city charter requires four-votes, the contract remains under consideration until Tuesday’s regular night meeting, at which time a second vote will take place.
Commissioners Bob Langstaff and Ivey Hines were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.