You can start with an attitude adjustment.
The group promoting Albany as a retirement Mecca can boast many assets attractive to retirees. And Albany has the facilities to work itself into a lucrative convention Mecca. But would you want to retire cold turkey to a city or visit a city that is known for its discord, high taxes, crime, racial unrest and limited entertainment opportunities?
My grandmother’s favorite expression was, “Oh, if we could see ourselves as others see us.” The citizens of Albany might consider this approach in our efforts to retain the title of “The Good Life City.”
When I came to Albany 50 years ago, it was the thriving metropolis of Southwest Georgia and the envy of other cities. Today, it is the victim of statewide jokes.
Our citizens were friendly, energetic, honest and concerned about their fellow humans. Our leaders were honest and put the interest of our citizens ahead of their personal gain. Crime was practically nonexistent and the cost of living was commensurate with our incomes. Not so today.
Southwest Georgia has been labeled as the poorest area in Georgia and I feel our leaders and residents have contributed significantly to earning that title. Our taxes are high with no ceiling in sight and crime continues to rise at accelerated speeds.
Our city is enormously blessed with numerous fine people of all ages, races, sexes, abilities and talents, but it is my opinion that each of our government-supported organizations are functioning without the coordination and cooperation of each other.
For example, the group promoting Albany as a retirement Mecca can boast many assets attractive to retirees. And Albany has the facilities to work itself into a lucrative convention Mecca. But would you want to retire cold turkey to a city or visit a city that is known for its discord, high taxes, crime, racial unrest and limited entertainment opportunities?
The committees seeking wealth-producing industries are faced with similar drawbacks, and the pessimistic ATTITUDE of our citizens add much to the problems. I understand there is much room for improvement in our school system – a major factor in attracting large industries. Lack of cooperative communication might be one of the problems.
The costly tourist attractions built at taxpayer expense have not been coordinated, in my opinion. My reasoning is as follows: If a tourist or local citizen has little or no interest in aquatic life, there is little incentive for him or her to return to the aquarium, and since Albany is not in a one-time visit tourist area, repeat visits are a major concern.
The playground is a great area asset because there will always be children, but unfortunately it produces no income. The Ray Charles Park is beautiful to look at, but it seems to have little functional, entertainment or educational value. And the amphitheatre is an excellent facility to have summer plays, concerts and lectures – if potential attendees were not so fearful of getting clobbered or robbed. The riverwalk, properly promoted, could be a tremendous asset – if security was assured.
The Civil Rights Museum also has limited appeal. I made one visit to the facility and found no information about the harmony that did exist between whites and blacks during the time I was growing up. We were all working for a better day. That day has arrived and people are unhappy. Honesty, integrity and responsibility have deteriorated like the Golden Rule.
Chehaw Park is a great, efficiently run facility for our area, and seems adequately attended. The addition of a few more native animals and more information about our native habitat might increase attendance.
Southwest Georgia is loaded with undeveloped tourist attractions, but my redundant appeal to local and state tourist officials have gone unheeded. The tiny brown signs that blend in so well with the surroundings do nothing to encourage visitors to the area – and some don’t’ even have arrows pointing the way.
I feel that our city leaders have betrayed the confidence our voters have placed in them to provide a more efficient, economical government. Our tax money is being spent without our being informed and as if it was an inheritance that doesn’t have to be paid back. The time is now for the residents of Albany to stop talking about what they ought to do and aim at doing it together.
And finally, I feel our biggest problem practiced by many whites and blacks is racism. That problem can be solved by implementing just one simple word into your thinking that should be understood by all ages, sexes, races and income levels – and that word is ATTITUDE. If Albany citizens all maintained a caring, cooperative attitude toward each other, many current problems would solve themselves.
I am old and will soon be celebrating the grand finale. I would die happy believing that the citizens of Albany were burying their differences and planting a new crop of friendship, cooperation and prosperity.
If my observations are incorrect, I would appreciate a reprimand.
By Joe Salter