Officials are considering abandoning the proposed site of the multimodal transit station which would be located in this parking lot behind the Dougherty County Courthouse.
ALBANY Albany city commissioners said today that they would like to meet with principals involved with a controversial multimodal transit station project before making a decision on whether to abandon the proposed site.
Meanwhile, City Attorney Nathan Davis has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in federal court by the Destiny Group and businesses owned by local businessman John Sherman which aims to derail the effort to build the new transit center behind the Dougherty County Courthouse.
Tuesday, the Albany City Commission discussed the multimodal project and reached a consensus that City Manager James Taylor should contact the principals with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration to set up an informational meeting in order to get information about the project directly "from the horses mouth."
"What I will need is some more information, not saying that it will change my vote, but to have more information in front of us, it may make me want to change to another site," Ward I Jon Howard said. "I'd like to get something straight from the horses mouth from the people at GDOT and FTA."
Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta said he concurred because "we have interest groups that are massaging information and so we don't know what the truth is, so I think we need to get it from the horse's mouth."
Marietta also insisted that Taylor provide a side-by-side cost comparison of the sites and what impact they could have the city's general fund.
Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said that having the state and federal authorities in Albany would be "helpful."
"I think it would be helpful to have the folks come down and talk to us about this," Pike said. "My thing is, after 12 years, I don't think that the argument is hard to make to change from the current location. We all know that rail is not coming to Albany, at least not in our lifetimes, so I think we have a legitimate argument that the other site is a better site."
Taylor said that the city commission has the ability to research the feasibility of other sites, but cautioned that if they do, they risk losing $3 million in stimulus funding and would risk incurring additional funding to pay for the environmental and other studies that would need to be done on a new site.
"Any site you choose, other than the current site, is going to require a lot of preliminary work," Taylor said. "And, we'll have to justify the change to the FTA if we want to keep the federal funding but ... the (Stimulus) money will likely go away."
The people are behind the lawsuit are also planning to meet with local, state and FTA officials in a meeting set for May 17.
Depending on the outcome of that meeting, the lawsuit could be dropped if the city decides to switch locations.