In an effort to try and be a bit more positive about Albany, I figured it’s time to start discussing how we can really put the “good life” back into the Good Life City. Let’s just make a few assumptions, just for the sake of argument. First, let’s assume that the corruption in Albany is minimized to a point where it’s at least consistent with the average American town of similar size. Ridding it would be ideal, but let’s be realistic. Let’s not assume that I-185 will ever come to Albany as well. While it sounds good, and I personally would actually be thrilled with the boost Albany would get, there’s no guarantee that it’ll happen.
So, what should we do?
There are a few things that are essential for a prosperous society. Good paying jobs, entertainment venues, good housing, good education, safety, things of that sort. So, what can we do to bring Albany back up to where we were before Firestone closed?
Education is something that there’s really only so much local officials can do. The state lays down guidelines that have to be followed, for good or ill, and education isn’t my strong suit by any means. Personally, I think the Dougherty County School Board does as well as they can considering…there’s more going on than just schools after all.
Notice what all’s not on that list?
Here are my thoughts. Take things like the Parks and Recreation Department and form an independent authority to handle those duties. Make them be self supporting. If people want all those programs, then let them pay for them. Let’s see what all survives. Personally, I think things like sports and parks will be fine.
In fact, let’s put the Civic Center, Veteran’s Park, and the Auditorium in there as well. You see, with good leadership, the Civic Center could be profitable enough to support the enter authority, requiring minimal fees for other activities. But currently, there’s no incentive to book potentially profitable acts … and let’s be honest, they can do well. Steve Harvey and Larry the Cable Guy both sold impressively on back to back weekends in a down economy. Oh yes, if you book it? They will come.You just need to book a variety of shows that will appeal to the variety of people we have in this area. A big name rapper on one weekend and a big name country star on another may look odd to some, but for Albany? That’s just how we roll!
By cutting some of the crap out of the city’s budget, we can reallocate that money towards law enforcement. We need more cops. We need the best cops we can get. We won’t get that without paying for it. A police presence does help deter crime, so why not help Chief Proctor out? Let’s get him the best force we can so he can do the job appropriately. Personally, I’m impressed with APD right now, and I’d love to see what they can do with more personnel.
I’m also going to again repeat the call for an independent downtown authority. Plenty of folks argue that we need a “thriving” downtown to function. I’d love to see downtown booming with night clubs, restaurants, bars, shops, and all the other things that would scream “thriving”. While I don’t think it’s up to the government to do it, I suspect that I’m the minority. The independent authority won’t have any more oversight than ADICA did, but they also have to be self funded so we won’t have to worry about our tax dollars getting siphoned off for someone else’s personal expenses. Because they’d be self funded, they’d have all the proper incentive to be fiscally responsible that any other business does.
I love this town, despite my near constant criticisms. I want to see it become great. We’re the only city on Earth to have as natives the MVPs of the World Series and the Super Bowl and an Olympic champion. We are the home town of musical legends. One of the world’s most famous zoologists is from here, and we’ve got one of the best zoos around. We have plenty to admire.
What we don’t have is the ability to rest on our laurels and pray they’re enough.
written By Tom Knighton