A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Where the new carousel will turn

Written April 20th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
This former turkey processing plant between the P&W tracks and West First Avenue will give way to the new Albany Carousel.

This former turkey processing plant between the P&W tracks and West First Avenue will give way to the new Albany Carousel.

My notes say on this meeting say “yak… yak… yak,” which is shorthand for all you need to know about Wednesday’s discussion about the Albany Carousel’s request for $339,500 in urban renewal money. In the end, all but two members of the Central Albany Revitalization Area advisory board voted, as you knew they would, in favor of granting the request.

As reported here Sunday, the carousel asked for the money to cover what it will have to pay in city development fees, to rebuild the sidewalk and streets outside its planned new building, and to get rid of the lead paint and the asbestos-laden floor tiles when its temporary building at First Avenue and Washington Street is demolished.

The board’s back and forth centered on whether the carousel organization would continue to raise private funds (it will), and whether it can repay some of the CARA aid if it raises more money than it needs for its planned new building, estimated to cost $5.6 million.

CARA has already given the carousel $300,000 to buy the property at First and Washington and $110,000 to design the new structure, intended to be an attraction or “anchor” on the west end of First Avenue. The additional money will be paid in the form of reimbursements for costs incurred for the three purposes identified in the request. If those things cost more, it’s the carousel’s problem. If they cost less, the city will pay only the amounts they cost.

For the carousel, Dave Johnson and Gary Goby, MD, appeared before the CARA board. If I understood them right, the old turkey factory at First and Washington will start coming down about June 1. The carousel animals and other gear have been, or are being, moved to nearby Two Rivers Market. With luck, the new building will open in 2017.

As a nonprofit organization with editorial and cultural aspirations, the carousel will be trying to raise money as long as it lasts. But it will also be a main attraction, bringing crowds to downtown Albany.

The CARA board made it clear this would be the last urban renewal contribution to the carousel. As for the two no votes on the request, they came from Mitch Langjahr and city Councilman Rich Kellum. (hh)


10 responses to “Where the new carousel will turn”

  1. Gothic Albany says:

    Another piece of Albany’s Industrial Heritage gone. So sad. The coolest part of this building is the loading doors on the back side. It must have been fun to spot the cars on the sharply curving siding back in the day!

  2. centrist says:

    blah, blah, blah
    Waiting for the “usual suspects” to chime in with the predictble
    Stuff often happens
    Get over it

  3. hj.anony1 says:

    An interesting perspective …. that image looking back from the normal traffic flow of life.

    Nice one, HH!

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Here is a quote from the paper on July 3, 2011:

    “We don’t want to be part of the city of Albany because we want to retain as much control as we can,” Wendy Kirbey, the president of the board, said in an interview. “We like the idea of being self-sufficient, and we want to be an asset to Albany and not a drain on the city’s finances.”

    Well, I’d say $750,000 is a drain not only on city finances, but the finances of every local taxing district that CARA skims money from – including the county, the state school fund, the vet’s home in Lebanon, and 4-H. And what happens if the carousel can’t sustain itself operationally? Will the city take over and bail them out?

    This is a sad situation because when the budgets of essential needs like county services, education, police, fire, library, and parks are drained to help fund the carousel, one has to question if city government is representing Albany residents responsibly. Is city government applying the right spending priorities here?

    And one has to wonder if the leaders of the carousel project have compromised their values. Clearly, the all-volunteer, privately-funded carousel project started out on the right foot. But somewhere along the line the lure of ‘free’ public money muddied the waters.

  5. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “My notes say on this meeting say “yak… yak… yak,” which is shorthand for all you need to know about Wednesday’s discussion about the Albany Carousel’s request for $339,500 in urban renewal money.”

    Yes, it is proof positive of the effectiveness (and the need) of/for public meetings regarding programs & projects in Albany. Absent that “yak… yak… yak,” we would be relegated to back-room dealings to get things done. The current process affords all folks to air their opinions AND, as it happened at this meeting, possibly sway opinions to their way of thinking. It was due to this process that we had more than one vote to arrive at the outcome. While the “yak… yak… yak,” may seem tedious at times, it serves a critical part of the process we have. I wouldn’t have it any other way…

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Sure, but couldn’t the yakking be a little more concise and take up much less time? (hh)

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        While that may be true, not everyone has had the benefit of being required to form concise/cogent statements on the fly. Especially if they are struggling with “how” to say what they feel they need to say. Trying to do so while leaving emotion out of the equation is tough sometimes as that “emotion” is why they may trying to make the statement in the first place…

  6. hj.anony1 says:

    This evening, I noticed the “cash for carousel” donation box was full at Albany’s Burgerville.
    Someone from the carousel effort should empty and bank that.

    Just an observation.

  7. David Abarr says:

    Looks like I missed a good one . It’s called due process . If you can’t handle local hearings then I can’t see people being able to process what goes on at the state of federal level to be honest . Easy to complain . A little more effort to be that change maker we all feel is needed . Talk about yak , yak , yak … This blog .


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