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City moves forward with multimodal project

Albany City Commissioners Ivey Hines, left, and Christopher Pike discuss business during Tuesday’s meeting at the government center. The commission voted 4-2 to proceed with a study into the construction of a multimodal transit center Tuesday.

Albany City Commissioners Ivey Hines, left, and Christopher Pike discuss business during Tuesday’s meeting at the government center. The commission voted 4-2 to proceed with a study into the construction of a multimodal transit center Tuesday.

ALBANY, Ga. — In the face of litigation that could derail plans to build a multimillion-dollar transit center downtown, Albany City Commissioners voted 4-2 Tuesday to go ahead with a study that, for now, keeps the project moving forward.

The owners of the existing bus transfer station downtown joined with the owners of vacant property near the site of a planned multimodal transportation center in a lawsuit Tuesday to block the project, attorneys say.

Al Corriere, who said Tuesday afternoon that he, along with John and William Morehead, is representing the interests of David and John Sherman and the Destiny Group, filed suit in Federal Court “challenging the propriety” of the federal government’s determination that the proposed multimodal site has no significant impact on the environment and surrounding businesses and asking that a judge halt the city’s efforts to move forward with the project.

Corriere said there were “significant problems” with the federal government’s analysis of the site.

“We’ve filed suit and forwarded copies to be served on the city and other entities, and we’re hoping that they (the commission) would choose to do what we think is the right thing and not attempt to re-invent the wheel and leave that bus transit facility where it is,” Corriere said.

According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday, the Sherman brothers are alleging that there were no “prudent or feasible alternatives” considered by the city and state when the plans were drawn up, in violation of federal law.

Destiny alleges that the city and state have failed to offer them a role in the new transit center or offered to buy them out, also in violation of federal law.

At the meeting, part of the Destiny Group’s redevelopment team, which pitched last week an alternative plan to rehabilitate the block where the current bus station is located, handed out letters of support from businesses around the Harlem district urging the commission to keep bus service operating out of the current location.

The commission narrowly voted to allow up to $595,000 to be spent on a federally-mandated archeological study of the proposed site, which is located in a parking lot behind the Dougherty County Courthouse.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike voted against funding the study.

Since the project is funded chiefly by federal stimulus dollars, the city and state have to spend the funds for the project by September 2013 or be stripped of the funding altogether.

Earlier Tuesday, before the suit had been filed, City Manager James Taylor said that state and federal authorities had taken a second look at their analysis of the site and “stood behind their decision.”

Shortly before the votes were cast, Hubbard said she “couldn’t see spending that kind of money on that kind of study” and would be voting against it.

Comments

dingleberry 2 years, 9 months ago

This project certainly qualifies as "shovel ready", doesn't it? Although I would just as soon leave the bus service where it is, I'm not thrilled about helping one of the litigators we gave what appears to be a sweetheart development fee to through an ADICA deal make his mortgage payment to the nearby bank. I do see reasons to develop that general area but it must be an arms length transaction. Why does Destiny feel it has to be given a role in the new facility? Isn't there simply a business risk in play rather than a "role"? Is it just because he is collecting rent from us now to use his facility--which won't be as viable or valuable when the multimodal comes in? Is it the owner of the bank that is most concerned? Why do they think we have to "buy them out" as the article says?

This is a complex and complicated matter that needs to be looked at much closer and by those with more legal savvy than the city attorney. A wrong step and the taxpayers will wind up getting it in the shorts--once again.

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