ALBANY, Ga. — Following up on a bus tour that revealed some of the city’s worst areas of blight and downtroddeness, Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard has issued a challenge to the residents of Albany to step up and join in efforts to improve the city.
City leaders have long talked about removing blight and litter and reducing crime while increasing involvement by community residents. But on Thursday, Hubbard issued a call to service, urging church groups, neighborhood watches, community associations, corporations and private citizens to sign a contract with the city, pledging to invest time into making an improvement.
“I am asking that all the citizens of Albany come together to make a difference,” Hubbard said. “The time for talking is over. The time for action is now. It’s time for the people to help us make Albany a safe and fun place to live, work and play.”
Hubbard’s call Thursday is an effort to forge a covenant between city leaders and the residents themselves, who she hopes will work together through using the city’s 311 service to report blighted areas, litter, gang graffiti — to reduce crime and improve the city’s appeal to companies looking to expand or relocate here.
“We know that prospective companies send out two sets of people when they look at cities. The first meets with people like me and the chamber and the second, goes around and gets the real picture of a city,” Hubbard said. “We can’t sugarcoat things. We have to get to the bottom of these issues at the street level and we can’t do that without participation of the public.”
Facing increasing economic hardships, city officials, namely City Manager James Taylor, have been frank about the city’s ability to fund city projects, like its demolition program for blighted structures.
“If we’re going to continue the demolition program, we need to have a plan, rather than bounce around the city taking down a house here and a house there,” Taylor told commissioners in a meeting Tuesday. “We can’t afford, as a city, to try and demolish all the blighted property within the city or we will be broke. ... We have to find a way to hold these property owners accountable rather than the onus be on the city and the taxpayer.”
Hubbard said she hopes the non-profits in the community and other community groups, corporations and private citizens will make the commitment to improve the city.
Hubbard said the city will hold an event at the Civic Center on June 9 to raise awareness and acknowledge those who are joining the movement.