Students helping with construction of downtown projects

Turner Job Corps students will help with steel beam work at the Art Park / Sarah Bleau

Between the Downtown Art Park and Albany Theatre project there was a lot of discussion at tonight's Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority (ADICA) meeting. The conversation about projects like these led back to one main discussion point: Getting local students involved.

"We've entered into an agreement with Turner Job Corps and Albany Tech to try to take advantage of those students that are at both of those locations that are learning to do electrical work, construction work, plumbing work, concrete work," says ADICA Board Member Phil Cannon.

Turner Job Corps and Albany Technical College will help draft plans for the Albany Theatre retail space; Turner Job Corps students will also help with steel work at the Art Park.

"The students are there for free, the contractor doesn't have to pay them, we don't have to pay them and they learn and they get to apply their schoolwork to a real life job," says Cannon.

One portion of the steel work is beyond their scope so ADICA approved contracting RAC to complete that part for $47,000.

Not only are students helping build the projects, they are helping ADICA save money.

"Anytime when we look at our projects say if the budget is $50,000 and half of that goes to labor, depending on how much work they can do you could save up to half of it but in real world you might save 30 percent which is a lot; even if it's only 20 percent, even if it's 10 percent it's a lot," says Downtown Manager Aaron Blair.

Cannon says, "Using these students if you've got a project that you save a million dollars in labor because you use these students, the value they receive far exceeds a million dollars."

They're dollars that ADICA hopes to save those who contribute to ADICA's bank account: the taxpayers.

"What we want to do is be very transparent in what we do we also want to protect the funds as much as possible realizing that we need to utilize them to further... I mean you have to spend money to do development so we can't do it for free but anytime we can save money that's our intention," says Blair.

ADICA also touched on plans for the Downtown Skate Park: Blair says he's been in touch with a 24-year-old entrepreneur Abdul Walker who made a presentation at the January ADICA meeting. Blair says he did email Walker to draft a lease that Blair could bring to the board; he says he has not received a response just yet.

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