Monroe Davis presents a petition with signatures in support of keeping the transit station at its current location during Tuesday's public forum at the government center.
ALBANY, Ga. -- More than 40 Albany citizens, most of them regular riders of the Albany Transit System, attended a public hearing at the downtown Government Center here Tuesday to hear an update on a long-delayed multimodal transit site being considered by the Albany City Commission.
Assistant City Manager Wes Smith told those gathered an environmental assessment would be completed before the commission determines which of three sites -- at 300 W. Oglethorpe Blvd., 732 W. Oglethorpe and at 1121 Gillionville Road -- will be built using some $4.5 million in federal funding.
"There is no picked or ranked site," Smith said before showing artist renderings of the three sites, at the current Trailways bus station, at the former Heritage House hotel and at the former Carmike Cinemas. "The evaluation of each could change during the environmental assessment."
Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, City Manager James Taylor, Transit Director David Hamilton, and city commissioners Jon Howard, Bob Langstaff, Ivey Hines and Christopher Pike were among those who attended the meeting.
"What we hear from these citizens today is going to impact our decision a whole bunch," Pike said. "These are the people who use the bus system."
Wendy Laramore, Willie Robinson and Yvette Caseman were among the hearing attendees who took Smith up on his invitation to comment on the proposed multimodal site, which has been in the works for more than a decade.
"I've been riding the city buses off and on since 1973," Laramore, 62, said. "Where it is now (at 300 W. Oglethorpe), I feel safe. If you move it somewhere where it's isolated, you're putting my life in danger."
Robinson added, "The thing should stay where it is and revive it. You don't need to put elderly citizens in danger. I'd also like to see you city commissioners ride the bus so you can really see how it impacts people's lives."
Caseman decried the routes and service provided by the transit system, and Hamilton told the group a public hearing on possible route changes would be held April 17.
Former Dougherty County Commissioner Victor Edwards, owner of Edwards Enterprise Services, said he and other community leaders held a "prayer vigil" Monday in an effort to keep the transit system at its current location. He said around 80 citizens showed up for the gathering.
"It's about these people who rely on this service to get around Albany, and it's about the local vendors who would lose their jobs if a new owner took over (the transit system)," Edwards said. "There are at least eight contractors whose people would lose jobs if the city moves the transit system to a new site.
"We'd like to see them keep it where it is and use the (federal funding) to make improvements."
Monroe Davis said the current location of the transit system had historical significance to citizens in the city's Harlem District as he presented a petition that he said had more than 750 signatures. The petition asked that the system remain where it is.
"Our forefathers planted a seed in this neighborhood, and we've watered it," Davis said. "Y'all have a chance to help it grow, to make it better. Y'all are always talking about building up downtown, but if you take this bus station away, it will kill downtown Albany."