Meeting story

In the high and bright hall of the Albany City Council where 50 people could fit freely, barely 15 people sat and five or six of those were city staff.

Paving, it appeared, would be the only item on the seven items agenda that anyone had come to discuss and after some discussion, even that was postponed.

The item concerned the Washington Ave and Traffic Calming and Paving Project and its cost of more than $44,000.  At least three residents were not happy.

The project would create a raised crosswalk, speed humps, curb extension, information and directional signage and parking on the sidewalk on Washington Street between Pierce and Cerrito.

Michael, a bearded man in his early 50s, came armed with official documents. He failed to understand why the project called for so many new crosswalks including three on Cerrito Street where he lives.

“Where does it end? How do we end up with seven of these things?” To him – and the residents he said he represented – the work would fail to make the streets more accessible. Although he left the meeting before explaining, it appears that the ramps might actually make the street less accessible.

Another Albany resident Clovis Gott said he wanted to postpone the adoption of this project, because of “some ambiguity in the staff report, and some of the lack of awareness among other people on the Washington street.”

Polk street neighbors were also unwilling to give the project a pass and Debora Dann from Polk said the “neighborhood would like more input.” She questioned whether the city had really listened to them on earlier meetings in which they were offered a completely different vision of this plan.

Robert Gonzales, who is in charge of the project for the city, said he had indeed listened to the neighborhood’s input.

But at the end Council member Nick Pilch and Vice-mayor Rochelle Nason agreed that the item should be set aside while more neighborhood meetings were held.

Frustrated, Mayor McQuaid wanted it to move forward, but she could see that was not going to happen. “I think there are some more opportunities to discuss this,” she said.” I want to stop it now and have other conversations come back here.”s

Satisfied, the residents who had objected left the Meeting.

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