Albany officials tout achievements for 2019, previous five years

The Flint restaurant on Pine Avenue is among the downtown area’s recent new additions.

ALBANY — After a brutal, and prolonged, campaign season in which several candidates took potshots at the city, Albany City Manager Sharon Subadan got a chance this week to mark some accomplishments.

The list, released to the Albany City Commission during a Tuesday meeting, includes projects completed or started in 2019 and another section outlining those that occurred from 2015 through 2018.

It includes both completed and ongoing work in categories including infrastructure, economic development, downtown redevelopment, public safety, recreation, transportation and finances.

In all, projects completed in 2019 or set to get under way total $113 million.

While the individual projects are impressive, even more impressive is the rapidity in which they have unfolded, City Commissioner B.J. Fletcher said.

“What really stands out is how quick it happened,” Fletcher said during a telephone interview on Wednesday. “My first year under Sharon Subadan, we got a pool at Thornton Gym that they had been working on for 10 years. (It’s) the quickness of it, the efficiency of it.

“Rails-To-Trails, (it was) 25 years that project had been stalled. (It’s) the quickness. What stood out is it has all been so quick.”

Among the infrastructure work for 2019 are the passage of the 1 percent transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax and $27.3 million allocated for replacing existing utility meters to advanced metering infrastructure that will provide more accurate and near real-time date for customers and the Albany Utility.

The T-SPLOST has allowed the city to add more deficient streets to the resurfacing list and to speed up the time frame for doing the work.

Phase 2 transportation projects included nearly $6.4 million spent on resurfacing, as well as ongoing Palymra Road sidewalks, intersection improvement projects at Westover Boulevard at the intersections of Gillionville Road and Oakridge Drive and at Dawson Road and Magnolia.

A pilot project for the conversion of existing water, gas and electricity meters will begin in three months.

In addition, a $6.5 million project to convert street lights to LED is 99 percent complete.

Another $18 million was earmarked for sewage system improvements.

Sewage work includes the River Station, Shadowlawn Area and Westside interceptor sewer projects that are completed.

At the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, the $5.4 million resurfacing of the main runway has been completed and resurfacing of the secondary runway is scheduled to start early in 2020. A general aviation terminal and hangar project is under design, and the passenger boarding bus is expected to be completed early in 2020. Total projects at the airport will total $13.3 million.

The city has accomplished that and the other work using an infusion of grant funding, while maintaining a reserve balance of $30 million and without raising taxes, Fletcher said.

The improvements are visible for those who make an effort to acknowledge them, she said.

“It is real,” she said. “Downtown might not be your thing, but if you go to downtown, if you look at what it was like five years ago and you see Pretoria Fields (brewery) and The Flint (restaurant) and lots of places, you have to give this city credit for accomplishments.

“You look at the streets, the alleys. Ride around these areas you wouldn’t normally go and see what we’ve done.”

In many cases, she said, residents bring complaints to her based on things they have heard from others.

Complaints she previously heard about poor street lighting that makes residents in some areas afraid for their children to play outside have pretty much disappeared with the completion of lighting.

“I often hear that people want change,” Fletcher said. “I challenge that; there has been change. When I ask them what is the change they want to see, 99.9 percent of the time they can’t answer.

“Albany is becoming again the hub of southwest Georgia.”

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