Fight Albany Blight is making more progress

    The city of Albany continues to make progress in the fight against blight. /Tosin Fakile

    The city of Albany continues to make progress in the fight against blight.

    Police Chief Michael Persley briefed city commissioners on some of the next steps that will be taken by the Fight Albany Blight (FAB) initiative.

    Perlsey told commissioners that blight affects every part of the city and they are approaching the issue with a short and long term strategy.

    "The short term goals are the things each department is working on and we're pulling our resources together so that we can work to get some of these properties taken care of either by court decision being made and the property owners come into compliance," said Persley.

    He said the other aspect of the short term goal is making sure properties that are up for demolition are done torn down and turned into green space that can be used.

    "And our long term goals are looking at areas we've identified within the city of Albany that have either historical value and we want to bring back that historical value or they have potential for future growth and we want to make sure we maximize that," Persley said.

    He told commissioners they have identified an area in collaboration with the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH); an organization working with the Albany Housing Authority. It's an area that borders ward 2 and 3 in the city. It's an area that both GICH and Housing Authority have a project in and the area was chosen to try to find out what additional resources it would take from the city, county and community to get things done.

    "The city commission has 6 top priorities that range from having a safe community to infrastructure development, marketing the city and just increasing the sell-ability of the city if that's a word to where the people that live here can take pride into it and even draw people from the outside," Persley said. "Some property owners may have property and they don't have any options, we can find out what options are available for them, educate the public on what they can do and assist them with maintaining the property. Some people don't want to get rid of the property; they just don't have the resources to take care of it. Then you have others who may not care as much about the property and they just let it go, so even educate those people," he added.

    Persley said the key is engaging the community and getting the community involved in taking ownership of their property.

    "One thing we're not trying to do is take over all the properties in the city of Albany, we just want people to take accountability, take responsibility for their property especially if they are paying taxes then make sure the property is fixed up, the yard is taken care of and it looks good so that somebody may want to purchase it from you. So there are a lot of informational and educational sessions we'll have to do with the community," Persley said.

    The departments involved in the FAB initiative are the Fired department, community economic development, planning code enforcement, city attorney's office and KADB. Persley said they've also reached out to the county for assistance.

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