ALBANY, Ga. — By pitching in to clean up the city, people can help attract more businesses with jobs, more restaurants and other features that make a city thrive.
That message from Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard added more than a hint of optimism to the audience at Jon Howard’s monthly East Albany Ward II Town Hall at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“When I had my platform validated by the meetings with citizens I called ‘Hubbard’s Huddles,’” Hubbard said, “I didn’t hear that crime was a major issue. The number one issue was education.”
Hubbard is about four months into her administration as recently elected mayor. When she campaigned she held the “Huddles” with people to find out what concerned residents.
Other issues that residents told her they were concerned about were economic development and neighborhood blight.
Hubbard said she plans to form “councils” on each of the problem areas and recruit people as individuals, members of clubs, churches and other organizations to serve on the councils.
Taking city blight as a departure point, Hubbard said the mattresses on the side of the street, the junked cars and debris all foster crime and lower chances of economic development.
The good people in the city clean up. Others see that and think they don’t have to bother. But Hubbard said that she thinks there are ways to encourage everyone, even slackers, to clean up the city.
“There are laws we can use,” Hubbard said. “I don’t want to but if we have to we can make an example of people.”
Cleaning up the city and improving the quality of life can be done, but it will take people signing up, Hubbard said. It will take organizations adopting parts of the city to clean and maintain as a long term commitment to the city.
Hubbard plans to have people sign contracts that symbolize their commitment to the city’s clean up and progress. Signs will go up in areas that have been adopted by groups so that people will know who is responsible for the area.
The first meeting to become part of the work to clean up the city is planned for 10 a.m. to noon June 9 at the Civic Center.
“The city can’t do it alone,” Hubbard said. “It takes help from residents.”
Hubbard also plans to involve Dougherty County representatives and residents. She believes that any development plan must involve the county and the region, because Albany stands as the region’s hub.
“Economic development needs a strategic development plan, for five years, for 10 years,” Hubbard said. “We’ll have the first meeting of the economic development council in the early fall or fall.”
The next Town Hall meeting is planned to be an elected candidate’s forum at 10 a.m. June 30, Howard said. It is scheduled to be held in the Law Enforcement Center, 201 W. Oglethorpe Blvd.