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Aiken school board OKs Project Jackson funding

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 8:52 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 2:03 AM
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Project Jackson is one step closer to becoming a reality nearly eight months after North Augusta city officials announced details of the project.

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Rechelle Dallas holds a sticker in favor of Project Jackson at the Aiken County School Board meeting.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Rechelle Dallas holds a sticker in favor of Project Jackson at the Aiken County School Board meeting.

The Aiken County school board voted 7-2 on Tuesday night in favor of approving its participation in the proposed North Augusta Tax Incremental Financing District, which would be a source of funding for the proposed riverfront development. Board members Dwight Smith and Wesley Hightower voted against the resolution.

“We’re very pleased,” North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones said after the vote “This is the first hurdle of a long race. We’ve said that from the beginning. It’s an A to Z process. We got a long way to go but if we would’ve lost here, we would’ve been down for the count so to speak.”

Project Jackson is a proposed development along North Augusta’s riverfront that includes a 200-room resort-type hotel, restaurants, office and retail space, apartments, townhomes and a baseball stadium.

North Augusta presented a new model in May for the TIF district that would be used to fund the project over 30 years. It would allow the city to collect the tax revenue on the incremental difference between rising Aiken County property values and values frozen at 1996 levels for 30 years.

The revised plan calls for 11 percent of the financing to come from the school district, and the money would not be used to fund the construction of a baseball stadium. The district would be allowed to exit the TIF after 15 years.

The city would also provide a summary report to the district annually.

The school board voted on the TIF during its regularly scheduled meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, both supporters and opponents spoke, in addition to North Augusta city officials.

Mike Stake, an Aiken resident, opposed the idea of the proposed public-private partnership.

“If you have a private enterprise that is that good of an idea, it should be able to stand on its own,” he said after the meeting.

Hightower said he voted against the resolution because he felt there were still unanswered questions.

“We have not determined whether the area is blighted or not as a school district,” he said. “There (were) other criteria that should have been met that we should have been able to determine. We didn’t do that. The only thing we said is that it’s good for the district.”

While Tuesday’s vote is a victory for the city, there’s still work to be done.

“A lot of dominoes have to flip. The first domino has flipped,” said Jones.

Now, Aiken County Council must consider its participation in the revised TIF.

“It’s not just a North Augusta project; it’s a countywide project,” said Jones. “We want them to partner with us and we’ll partner with them. If they move forward and allow participation in the TIF then the real work will begin.”

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Dixieman
17270
Points
Dixieman 08/13/13 - 08:51 pm
4
6
Well, there goes the neighborhood.

Augusta, that is.
North Augusta has some sensible politicians and is doing just fine!

Little Lamb
48946
Points
Little Lamb 08/13/13 - 09:11 pm
5
1
Sad Day

It was the B side of 19th Nervous Breakdown, but it was a good song:

Sad Day, by the Rolling Stones.

Riverman1
93449
Points
Riverman1 08/13/13 - 10:07 pm
2
8
Carefully Orchestrated

It was carefully orchestrated from the start. There was no way the Aiken County investors would buy the team and not move it to N.Augusta. I have to admit it will be lots of fun to attend a game at a river stadium.

Lake Olmstead will go to ASU which will help their program immensely even if they have to share it with Paine. There is also a way to configure baseball stadiums for football games by putting temporary bleachers on one side. Paine could play football there, too.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 08/14/13 - 05:33 am
0
0
Either that or they would
Unpublished

Either that or they would demolish Lake Olmstead Stadium and build more projects down there.

corgimom
38313
Points
corgimom 08/14/13 - 05:55 am
3
6
I don't think that Lake

I don't think that Lake Olmstead is going to ASU, I think it'll be razed and developed. The land is too valuable to use as a baseball field.

etlinks
24322
Points
etlinks 08/14/13 - 05:56 am
4
0
Curious

I would still like to see a vote concerning a yea or nay on the stadium from Aiken county citizens. I just don't believe this project is supported by a majority of the voters. I could be wrong and I know the count would not make the big shots change their views. With all that said I hope things work out in a positive fashion because this is still my hometown.

agustinian
723
Points
agustinian 08/14/13 - 06:32 am
4
1
John Paul Jones

To paraphrase the naval hero -- "We have not yet begun to fight!"

It ain't over baby!

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:06 am
0
0
Representative government $$$$ at work for you? Right
Unpublished

Representative government $$$$ at work for you? Right

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:07 am
0
0
To be continued: The Coliseum that sank into the Savannah.
Unpublished

To be continued: The Coliseum that sank into the Savannah.

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:08 am
0
0
Government sponsored entertainment. Gotta luv it. Ben Dover
Unpublished

Government sponsored entertainment. Gotta luv it. Ben Dover

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:10 am
0
0
N. Augusta taxpayers foot the bill for the privileged few - BD
Unpublished

N. Augusta taxpayers foot the bill for the privileged few - BD

newsphoto
7
Points
newsphoto 08/14/13 - 07:27 am
5
0
A money pit...

Moving about 4 to 6 miles from it's current location, will attendance stay the same or drop? I expect it will drop because Augusta residents will see the move across the river as a slap in the face.

But it will bring jobs to North Augusta...
IF the contractor building the project is a Aiken County Resident.
IF the workers building the project are Aiken County Residents.
Chances are a contractor from Alabama or Tennessee will low bid and bring out of state workers with him. They will stay at a low cost motel in Augusta and eat in Augusta.

They want to build a new hotel... What will this hotel offer that isn't available in Augusta currently? For 51 weeks it will be pretty much empty but one week of Masters it will be full.

Maybe the hotel will have a couple booking for the 67 games starting in April and ending in September. I guess they can board up the windows and shut down September, October, November, December, January, February, March and then reopen in April to train people the week before Masters. That is the only way I see this being profitable.

I am wondering IF the GreenJackets will stay long enough to see the initial loan paid back. The good thing is the loan is based on projected/expected/future tax revenues. Haven't we learned ANYTHING since 2008? If property values drop then you don't take in as much in taxes. If people loose their job, they don't pay income tax. If people loose their jobs, they don't have disposable income...

Anyone taking bets if this project will go bankrupt?

Too bad North Augusta didn't build a Convention Center like Augusta. They could be making trillions of dollars like Augusta... I know, Augusta is only making billions only because they don't have that walkway to the parking garage. There's 40 percent unused convention space in America...

Watch the July 18, 2013 Stossel and listen about the Stadiums and the revenues they DON'T generate...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQR1QaitGqw

Watch this video with "The Baseball Economist" author J.C. Bradbury and Fmr. Cleveland "Tech Czar" Michael DeAloia on the economic impact of big government projects like arenas and stadiums.
http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/934232518001/economist-no-economic-benefi...

seenitB4
97218
Points
seenitB4 08/14/13 - 08:20 am
2
1
They could be making trillions of dollars like Augusta...

Are you serious? hah...Find the trillions please..haha

The folks I know in N A are happy about this deal....even some want to live nearby.

...point to ponder
779
Points
...point to ponder 08/14/13 - 08:21 am
1
3
...shows a total lack of...

..The City of Augusta leadership gets an "F" for failing to stay the course working to keep baseball in Augusta. They 'failed' when they 'knew' Cal Ripken would pull out if a new stadium was not built.

I'm praying that when Project Jackson does not pass that the City of Augusta gets their pens and paper out to make the stadium deal happen on the former golf and gardens site.

It will make economic sense. It will benefit our downtown. It is the BEST location for a stadium.

**I kinda believe that the leadership in Augusta has been silent for so long due to a possible/potential conflict of interest between the developers of the North Augusta Project,the owners of the baseball team and some folks related/friends to Augusta leadership. Not sure but with the 'lack of fight' exhibited by our elected officials ever sense Project Jackson was conceived...seems strange. Our folks NEVER made a move to keep baseball here!

For our leadership on the Ga. side just to rollover...give up...and not care reflects very poorly on our Mayor, our commission, and our Governor. Not sure if there lack of interest in keeping baseball in Augusta was due to their lack of intelligence or greed.

(*if Project Jackson does pass I can't wait to see the Mayor's fleet of water taxis crisscrossing the Savannah River taking Georgians to SC!)

Little Lamb
48946
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/13 - 09:18 am
2
0
Not theirs to develop

Point To Ponder, you might have missed the newspaper article where the State of Georgia gave the old Golf & Gardens property to the Georgia Board of Regents. The city of Augusta cannot build a ball park for a minor league baseball team there.

Now, if Grooo can convince the Board of Regents to donate the land to Augusta Government, then it could happen. But I wouldn't hold my breath for that.

internationallyunknown
5018
Points
internationallyunknown 08/14/13 - 01:11 pm
2
0
Of course the school board

Of course the school board passed this....look @ the amount of money that will be sent their way.

There is nothing like an Augusta Greenjackets game on a cool summer evening.

North Augusta Greenjackets....doesn't make sense....c'mon Augusta. Are you really going to allow this to happen....maybe its just to darn late. O well...thanks Deke et al.

bill.waters
18
Points
bill.waters 08/14/13 - 02:59 pm
1
0
More Toys?

While I respect the Mayor and Council's decision, I question the provision for maintenance. We have the Greeneway, which is falling into disrepair, and needs repaving. Why should the "Public" buy you more toys when you aren't taking care of the ones you already have?

...point to ponder
779
Points
...point to ponder 08/14/13 - 05:40 pm
1
0
Little lamb...I don't miss much....

I did not miss ithis....that's when our Mayor should have stepped up to the plate (*so to speak) and worked out the arrangements to keep the land.

But, no, all the players struck out....the Mayor, the Commissioners, the Governor....all of them knowing that Cal was serious about leaving...still did nothing to stay in the game.

We had no coach...no manager...no big hitters to lead our team to victory!!
.... not even a walkon.

So they all were complicit in allowing home plate to be literally stolen from Augusta!

They have allowed by their lack of true ball playing ability this game to be thrown (away)!

...point to ponder
779
Points
...point to ponder 08/14/13 - 05:52 pm
1
0
Oh, about holding my breath...

I'd have to be dead to hold my breath as long as required to see things done intelligently by the group I mentioned earlier.

gargoyle
20699
Points
gargoyle 08/14/13 - 06:00 pm
3
0
Guess I'm the only Richmonian

Guess I'm the only Richmonian from old city who is happy N.Augusta took the baton keeping a baseball team in our area. With the debit incurred feeding the White Elephants downtown it wasn't fiscally possible to keep a team in Augusta. N. Augusta Government seems to keep things in perspective unlike our leaders who act more like kids in a candy store, no planning just spend what you got and cry for more.

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