Albany Hill City Park Cross –– The Neglected Symbol That Could Cause Severe Damage
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Click Here for An Open Letter to the City of Albany & Documents Showing the Cross is on City Land
Click Here for Photos from Our November, 2015 Protest at Albany City Hall
Sitting on the top of Albany Hill, in the middle of the city park, is a 25 foot steel cross, built in 1938 or 1971, that is simply unsafe. The history of the cross is extremely unclear; equally unclear is how the city has been able to ignore electrical and structural codes for this cross for decades.
The 110 volt wiring to the cross is illegally attached to a small tree to support it. This is a violation of Article 230.10 of the National Electrical Code. The swaying of the tree in the wind could create a break in the wire. According to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), “It is common for energized electrical wires to start fires when they fall into dry grass."
(“The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) provides national leadership to develop, maintain, and communicate interagency standards, guidelines, qualifications, training, and other capabilities that enable interoperable operations among federal and non-federal entities.”)
The cross’s foundation is extremely eroded, and two of the four mounting bolts are broken off. If the cross falls, it could easily start an electrical fire.
Yet the city designates this area as a critical fire hazard.
In 1963 the city planned on (illegally) spending $50,000 to reinstall the cross, plans which were abandoned due to budget constraints. According to some accounts, the cross was re-installed at its current location in 1971 on private land belonging to City Councilmember Call. Whether this represented a new installation, or just Call acquiring the property, is unclear. Two years later Call gave the land to the city with an easement for the Lions Club to maintain the cross; in return he was allowed to sell the other side of the hill to a condo development corporation, which created the Gateway development.
Nearly 50 years later, after severe structural damage due to vandalism, the cross remains. Why has the city failed to provide proper oversight to a structure on city property in the middle of its own park? We think this is just another example of religion being given special privileges. No business or private citizen would be allowed to endanger the public in this way.
We apologize that our flyer distributed to nearby residents failed to mention that the Lions Club is responsible for bringing the cross up to code. This left some people thinking we were advocating that the city spends its own money on this religious symbol.