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Downtown is worth the effort

Albany City Manager James Taylor has a task ahead of him as he works to dispel an image of downtown that took a hit last week with the fracas that broke out during the Independence Day fireworks show.

Actually, the task is too big for any one person, even Taylor. But the retired Marine has point on this effort, which he exhibited Friday in a memo aptly titled “Challenges of Today ... Hope for the Future.”

“We refuse to have our community defined by one incident, we are moving forward and ask that the community move forward with us,” Taylor wrote. “We will determine what happened and take action to fix the problems.

“Our plan is to continue to serve the community with more events; however, given what we know, we will make some changes. Some of these changes will take time and others will cost money, but I think it is important we proceed to make future events downtown safer than ever, and we ask for your help and continued support.”

Action is exactly what is needed here. The downtown area has been without a real identity since the Albany Mall opened and retail businesses migrated northwest. Various efforts have been tried and failed, but the one that seems to be starting to take hold is the formation of an entertainment-type district. That’s resulted in an effort to create an arts park, along with the creation of a monthly Deck of Arts event that mixes artwork and music entertainment. The evolution has been gradual, but encouraging.

Then this fight breaks out during one of the city’s premier downtown events, bringing what should be a joyful celebration to a sour, unsatisfactory conclusion. All of a sudden, positives like the Albany State’s homecoming parade, the Deck of Arts, Mardi Gras, Flint Fest, the annual Christmas parade and even the previous two decades of Independence Day celebrations are forgotten.

The troublemakers were a group of teenagers who were in the park area unsupervised. Three teens were arrested in the disruption, including one on a firearms charge. The only positive was that no one was injured. Taylor indicated that this is an area on which he will focus in developing a plan to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

In his memo, Taylor said that the public will have to reach an understanding that events such as the fireworks show are not city-sponsored childcare services. He also said that provisions will be looked at to prevent future disruptions and that a “special events curfew” for minors will be developed.

Other things that the incident exposed were also addressed by Taylor, including better communications between law enforcement officials and the public, making sure loiterers aren’t hanging around looking for trouble to get into, improving crowd control and establishing a risk management plan.

Taylor is asking for community support in these efforts and we hope that support will be forthcoming. While the easy road would be to write off downtown, and many Albanians would do just that, it would be a disastrous policy. The fact is that if downtown is abandoned to the criminal element, it will not stop there. Their tentacles will reach out to other parts of the city.

Downtown has been victimized by the unscrupulous, stigmatized by failed revitalization plans and marginalized by those who can’t see its potential. A revitalized downtown would make Albany a stronger community overall with a better quality of life. Implementing measures to make it safer and enforcing those measures are necessary steps in the right direction.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 9 months ago

Public safety is the primary responsibility of any government. Our community will not enjoy public safety until our controlling leaders are willing to make decisions that serve the good of the people rather than themselves. Financial resources are required to provide effective public safety and law enforcement. The certain reality is that the community because of its size has a limited financial resources which must be used wisely in order to produce effective results. In this community we have city police, county police, sheriff's department, school police, ASU police, Darton police and martshalls. Look at the lawlessness and disorder in our community. What is right about this picture? Tax payers and citizens deserve better leadership and decision making.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

No disrespect to the City Manager James Taylor, but we have heard this same song before it was just in a different key. Youth carrying guns offsets all the warm fuzzy words any politician can say. If a focused effort is not brought to bear on the trouble makers with real actions the community can see happening then this will just be another song and dance trying to appease the community with strong words that really mean nothing.

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Griff 1 year, 9 months ago

This is not an isolated incident. However, it is probably the straw that broke the camel's back for many. I do not believe that the downtown area will ever be revitalized or that Albany will ever be a safe, enjoyable place to visit.
My "camel's back" has been broken for several years now.

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AnotherMom 1 year, 9 months ago

It is commendable that the City Manager doesn't want to throw in the towel and is concerned. However, we have been trying for several years to address the issue of crime in this town along with the safety of people at public events. Telling people to not drop off their kids and leave them unsupervised is a waste of breath. The ones who need to hear this aren't listening nor do they care. The ones who were caught & arrested should receive some serious punishment so they will think twice about doing this again. However, they are out on bail of $130 and sent back to do it all over again! How is this "taking care of the problem"?

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Albanite 1 year, 9 months ago

Albany may not be defined by one incident, but this isn't just one incident. It is the latest in a predictable pattern of behavior by a specific class of individual that already defined this place a long time ago.

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rightasrain 1 year, 9 months ago

It's about time that Taylor and the other "Downtown" purveyors face reality and flush downtown into the river; after all, for years they've been flushing our tax dollars down the toilet trying to bring life to a corpse. On second thought, maybe they enjoy giving "mouth-to-mouth" to something that's dead and rotting.

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43cop 1 year, 9 months ago

Downtown is not worth the effort and James Taylor knows it is not. Politics is what placed him in this job and he wants to keep it on top of his military retirement. So if the Mayor says "Jump", he says how high.

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willie 1 year, 9 months ago

Lets not be too fast and throw downtown in the river just yet. First and foremost, the preachers and do rights along with the Albany City Clowncil HAVE TO STEP ASIDE and let the police do their jobs. For these special occassion's, curfews must be implimented, a police holding area for ticketed violators has to be in place for the parent's or responsible person to pick up their ticket as well as their child. Prior planning prevents a poor performance. I believe the street cops were ready, however, the command cops were either not prepared themselves for the task at hand or worried about who they will have to answer to. Keeping that in mind, do you want to cancel everything, do you want the cops to worry about locking up thugs in front of the community or do you want the cops to do their job while you sit back and enjoy the evening with family and friends it is all up to you Albany..............

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