Dougherty County facing litter battle, recreation expansion

Piles of litter are common sights in parts of Albany and Dougherty County. Officials are being moved to take action on the matter, largely by getting the public involved in holding guilty parties accountable.

ALBANY — Putting teeth behind the enforcement of litter laws and expanding recreational opportunities alongside the city of Albany are among the issues the Dougherty County Commission has on the table.

District 3 Commissioner Clinton Johnson said discussions are underway on what to do at certain recreational locations. He said this comes following a public outcry for expanded opportunities, especially for children.

For instance, there is consideration on the table to transfer C.W. Heath Park from city to county property.

“In which case, the county would take over ownership,” Johnson said.

The commissioner said a presentation is being put together to present to city officials. Other project being discussed are the addition of a multipurpose room at the J.C. Odom Fitness and Wellness Center, meeting space at the Carver Gym facility, improvements to tennis facilities and a water park.

For the water park, Johnson said, a feasibility study would be done. If the data lines up in favor of such a project, the county would partner either with the city or another entity.

“It would be similar to what is at Wild Adventures,” he said. “We would partner with Chehaw or another agency.

“(We are also looking at) former Brownfield areas and building a baseball complex.”

Johnson said the goal is for city officials to know they do have a partner in Dougherty County.

“Recreation is a part of a good quality of life,” he said.

The commissioner said a draft would be pulled together and sent to city officials. Among the proposed items the public can expect some level of action on in the next few weeks is the possible transfer of C.W. Heath Park and the water park study.

Johnson said that should the transfer of Heath Park occur, the county would make plans to add a shelter and pavilion.

On the issue of litter, Johnson said the message is education and enforcement. A presentation promoting a clean Dougherty County is being taken into schools, while more teeth are expected to be put into the litter policy.

“We want to keep the fines high to (bring home the message) that we don’t tolerate litter at all,” he said. “We are going to come down hard.”

Trucks with insecure trash loads and illegal dump sites are the biggest obstacles in the Dougherty County area. Fines are already up to $1,000, but there is a problem in getting litter cases to court.

The best way to fight the problem, Johnson said, is for citizens to get involved by calling 311, getting a tag number and coming to court.

“This is the only way we will stop litter and take it very seriously,” he said. “(We will) attack litter head on.”

Staff Writer

I'm a 2007 graduate of Georgia Southern University, and I've been a reporter for The Albany Herald since 2008. I cover news related to health care, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, SOWEGA Council on Aging and other areas as assigned.

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