Albany City Commission could vote on changes to Chewaw Park charter in December

Southern Black Rhino Dubya celebrated his 19th birthday at Chehaw park earlier this month. Albany officials are considering a change to the wild animal park’s charter.

ALBANY – Chehaw park’s governing authority would change its board structure, adding representatives appointed by Dougherty County and Lee County governments, under a proposal presented on Tuesday to the Albany City Commission.

Currently, the Chehaw Park Authority comprisesf nine members – one City Commission member, seven members appointed by commissioners and one member appointed by Friends of Chehaw.

Under the restructuring, one member each would be appointed by Friends of Chehaw, the Dougherty County Commission and the Lee County Commission. The other four of the seven would consist of the Albany city manager and three appointments made by city commissioners.

The two county governments already provide in-kind assistance to the park, two-thirds of which lies in Lee County and the remainder in Dougherty County. The addition of the Lee and Dougherty County representatives would acknowledge that, said Chehaw Executive Director Tommy Gregors, who presented the proposal to commissioners.

The park, formally named the Chehaw Wild Animal Park, opened in 1977 and has been operating under its original charter since that time. That name would be changed to Chehaw Park & Zoo under the proposal.

The local legislation under which the park operates expires in December 2020. That means the park needs to have new legislation passed when the Georgia General Assembly meets in early 2019.

“In some form or fashion, we’ve got to have the legislation renewed,” Gregors said during a Wednesday telephone interview. “While we were looking at it, we were looking at opportunities to have some additional representation. We wanted to let Dougherty County and Lee County have some representation.

“A lot of our visitors come from Lee County. Dougherty County and Lee County have provided support in many ways that have helped the park be successful.”

Local governments would need to present resolutions to the local delegation of state lawmakers, who would present the proposal to the Legislature during the session that begins in January.

“We’re hoping we can get it on the city of Albany’s agenda in December,” Gregors said. “We’d like to get as much done as possible so we can get it introduced early in the session.”

In other business at the City Commission meeting, commissioners:

♦ Approved the purchase of two bucket trucks from Altec Industries Inc. in the amount of $370,674 for use by the Vegetation Management Division;

♦ Approved the sole bid, in the amount of $339,849, for the installation of a bar screen for a sewage system lift station.

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