May 03 2008

Albany Council Votes Yes to $590,000 Visioning Contract

Published by at 7:14 am under Waterfront Planning

News Update: From Albany City Webiste

“Albany Council voted (Yes: Lieber, Atkinson, Wile; No: Javandel, Okawachi) to approve the recommendation of the Waterfront Committee and spend an estimated $590,000 on a waterfront visioning contract with Fern Tiger Associates (FTA). Of the $590,000, approximately $300,000 was already put aside in an earlier budget. However, the remainder of $290,000 has not been identified. It was “hoped” that the city-hall renovations might come in under budget so that some of those monies could be used. Note that the total is still only an estimate and may be exceeded. A number of speakers who generally approved the visioning process still considered the cost excessive.

According to the Waterfront Committee wishes, FTA will consider only “visions” for the waterfront that assume that the Golden Gate Fields (GGF) racetrack goes away. However, Robert Hartman, manager at Golden Gate Fields, noted that the number of race days at the track will almost double in the 08/09 racing season, making the track more profitable than it already is. He reiterated the company line that the racetrack is not going away.

The visioning process, and associated budget, provided by FTA can be found on the Waterfront Visioning Process page of the City’s website.

Phase I of the process calls for extensive interviews (50-60) with “stakeholders” in the process, plus a city-wide survey to gather visions from a range of Albany residents. However, it is not clear at this stage what percentage of the GGF property would be available for parkland, because some portion of the property must be devoted to commercial development of some kind in order to finance the entire purchase and development. Early guesstimates for the purchase alone — without the substantial development costs — came to $100 million; so the percentage of the property needed for development to offset this and all other costs could potentially be quite large. Of the $590,000 budget, only $52,000 (mid-point) is available for working with consultants and sub-contractors in order to gather a wide range of economic and environmental analyses.”

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