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Plan calls for closing existing Berckmans Road, other streets for new road design

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 5:28 PM
Last updated Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:12 AM
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Berckmans Road and several smaller streets running through property owned by Augusta National Golf Club could be closed to traffic in a land swap that would give the city land needed to build a redesigned Berckmans.

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Berckmans Road next to Augusta National Golf Club (at right) would be closed to traffic in a land swap that would give the city land needed to build a redesigned Berckmans.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Berckmans Road next to Augusta National Golf Club (at right) would be closed to traffic in a land swap that would give the city land needed to build a redesigned Berckmans.

Meg Mirshak
Staff Writer
Twitter: @megmirshak
E-mail | 706-823-3228

A 1-mile stretch of existing Berckmans Road between the driveway entrance to Jay’s Music & Sound Super Center near the intersection of Washington Road and a point near Towne Club Condominiums would be closed — according to a site plan for right-of-way abandonment filed Tuesday with the city’s Planning Department.

A new segment of Berckmans Road would begin near Towne Club Condominiums at the edge of Augusta National and curve westward through the golf club’s property used as parking lots during the Masters Tournament. The new Berckmans Road will align with Alexander Drive at Washington Road.

Land for the new road segment owned by Augusta National would be exchanged for the city-owned existing Berckmans Road, according to Pat Rice, an attorney representing Augusta National. The land value will be assessed in coming months to determine if the swap is equal, and if not, money will be exchanged, he said.

The $16.7 million realignment and widening of Berckmans Road is funded by the 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects. Augusta National offered to loan the city money interest-free to begin the project sooner than planned. The city will repay the club as tax collections come in.

Rice said plans call for beginning the first phase of construction soon after the 2015 Masters.

A request for an interview with Augusta Traffic Engineer and Interim Deputy Administrator Steve Cassell was not returned Wednesday. Cassell said he needed to ask the city’s law department about the request.

Heath Drive, Cherry Lane, Hemlock Hill Road, McCarthy Drive, Hillside Lane and a portion of Stanley Drive would also close to traffic. The roads would remain in place for access to the club’s parking areas, Rice said.

“Now, Augusta National owns all property on both sides of the roads. They have no further use for traffic purposes,” he said.

The road plan maintains access to Jay’s music store from Washington Road, a privately-owned home fronting Stanley Drive and The Lodge on Heath, a hospitality house on Heath Drive.

However, the road plan has upset some area stakeholders since it was first proposed.

Vera Frohman, owner of Jay’s, said she feels powerless against the Augusta National and the city. Despite leaving access to the store’s parking lot from Washington Road, closing the existing section of Berckmans Road will negatively affect her business, she said.

“It brings a lot of traffic for our store. It brings customers to our store,” she said.

Grovetown resident Jacki Atkinson said Berckmans Road provides convenient and direct access from Walton Way to Washington Road. Atkinson, who traveled Berckmans on Wednesday from Surrey Center to The Fresh Market, said she would have to rework her driving routes under the new plan.

“It seems we’re spending a lot of local money that could benefit everyone instead of just the (Augusta) National,” she said. “That’s basically once a year. What about the local people that deal with it everyday?”

Rice said city planners proposed the road realignment years ago to alleviate traffic issues at Berckmans and Washington roads and facilitate traffic flow between Riverwatch Parkway and Walton Way.

The plan still needs vetting from various city departments and the Engineering Services committee before going before the Augusta Commission.

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Little Lamb
54030
Points
Little Lamb 05/21/14 - 05:36 pm
9
13
You can always spot a whiner

Vera Frohman, owner of Jay’s, said, “Despite leaving access to the store’s parking lot from Washington Road, closing the existing section of Berckmans Road will negatively affect my business. It brings a lot of traffic for our store. It brings customers to our store.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Come on, Vera. Your customers are smart enough to find your store parking lot after Berckmans closes. Get over it.

Just My Opinion
7111
Points
Just My Opinion 05/21/14 - 06:51 pm
9
6
I think part of the problem

I think part of the problem is that Ms. Frohman has come to the realization that the Augusta National saw they couldn't convince her to sell her parcel of land, so they proceeded with their plans AROUND her parcel. Sure, the rerouting will cause some confusion, delays, and changes in habit, but people will overcome this in due time. It's called progress.
Unless the National has specific plans for that land, other than parking, I think it'd be a great spot to host occasional outdoor concerts. Hey! Doesn't Bubba Watson play in a band??

Fiat_Lux
18775
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/21/14 - 07:10 pm
14
10
No, dammit! It's a public road that belongs to ALL the people.

"Now, Augusta National owns all property on both sides of the roads. They have no further use for traffic purposes,” he [Pat Rice] said.

I think you mean "WE have no further use for traffic purposes". After all, you're a member, aren't you?

And just because you and your buds don't have "any further use" for that stretch of Berckmans Road doesn't mean that the rest of us don't need it any more for traffic purposes. It's not your road. It belongs to the citizens of this county. It just coincidentally now traverses a stretch of real estate recently acquired by your exquisitely exclusive club of the rich and powerful. That neighborhood was purchased not just for expanded parking but with an eye to being able to keep the rest of us-- the great unwashed--from getting anywhere closer than absolutely necessary to your space.

I don't know of anyone who has a problem with shutting Berckmans Road during Masters Week, or perhaps even earlier if needed, but giving to the Augusta National a road and route that many people use every single day simply because the Augusta National doesn't want it available to the public anymore is the crassest kind of insult to the people of Augusta.

IMO, this isn't just presumption; it's sickening. Augusta bends over backwards to welcome Masters patrons and provide them with a safe and wonderful, memorable experience in our city. We Augustans put on Masters Week no less than the Augusta National does, and yes, we derive great benefit from it. I just hope the county leaders will look out for us citizens instead reflexively acceding to this.

nocnoc
64124
Points
nocnoc 05/21/14 - 07:07 pm
9
6
Here is how government working with a business

can benefit both.

While all the facts are not presented on the surface it seems to be a good deal.

I am waiting for the day they purchase Washington Rd., after purchasing all the Frontage between Lake Omstead and Berckmans Road.

That is not beyond their means either.

OJP
9137
Points
OJP 05/21/14 - 07:05 pm
9
2
I'm generally in favor of assisting the ANGC as much as possible

But we should always remember that it can't even threaten to leave.

Riverman1
114055
Points
Riverman1 05/21/14 - 07:10 pm
9
7
If the National wanted to

If the National wanted to move to another city, I suspect there would be about $100,000,000 as part of the deal to entice them. Augusta should do all it can do keep them happy.

Fiat_Lux
18775
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/21/14 - 07:36 pm
9
3
Somehow, I don't believe they'd move.

Moving the Kaaba from Mecca wouldn't make Mecca not the holiest city of Islam anymore. And non-members (non-Muslims) still wouldn't be allowed there anymore than non-members can stroll into the National.

It's not like it can be the AUGUSTA National somewhere else, even if they still called it that.

proudgunowner
148
Points
proudgunowner 05/21/14 - 07:41 pm
0
0
No big deal
Unpublished

I live in the area affected and travel Berckmans Road on a regular basis. Geez, it might make me drive 1/2 mile further when going to Surrey Center but otherwise I think it makes sense to be able to come off of Alexander and go straight across and access the shops and restaurants that way....Especially with all of the new development at Riverwatch this will be a big improvement for anyone heading in that direction. I'm also glad to see they are putting in a light at the entrance to Publix and Kroger......There are accidents there almost daily with people insisting on making left turns onto Washington Road. I'm all for the improvements!!! ( and I'm not even a member at The National ).

Riverman1
114055
Points
Riverman1 05/21/14 - 07:44 pm
8
6
Fiat_Lux, I know what you

Fiat_Lux, I know what you mean, but it could be the Masters somewhere else and that's what's important. The ANC layout has been changed around many times. It's a stretch for it to move, but I believe possible. But the bigger issue is to realize the hundreds of millions they bring to the local economy, the publicity, the spin-offs and the excitement. Why shouldn't we do everything possible to enhance the ANC and keep them happy? Imagine what cities would pay to permanently have the Super Bowl.

pottsville
299
Points
pottsville 05/21/14 - 07:52 pm
1
0
Berckman Rd

It will be interesting to see how this works out!

Butterman
3694
Points
Butterman 05/21/14 - 08:02 pm
0
1
They Can't Move
Unpublished

The whole prestige of The Masters' is based on this unique fabled golf course. It cannot be replicated somewhere else. It would not be the Augusta National anywhere else. I am sick of having to bend over backward to every whim of this golf club.. Augusta made The Masters what it is, not the other way around.

Pops
21989
Points
Pops 05/21/14 - 08:20 pm
10
4
I for one won't miss

that mess that is the intersection of Berckmans and Washington Rd. It will be just fine once it is rerouted to Alexander Dr.

pimpernell
94
Points
pimpernell 05/21/14 - 08:22 pm
8
5
Berckmans and the 800 pound gorilla

Atlanta has been described as an airport surrounded by the remnants of the plantation system.
In that vein Augusta appears to be a golf course surrounded by tacky
real estate strung out along a filament of rudimentary capitalism.
It should come as no surprise that those better than the rest of us
should override the body politic. Witness, the National's offer to pay the freight for imminent domain in reverse a la the demolition of public access to Washington Road at Berckmans. The power of Plutocracy at work. Remember when John D. Rockefeller et al loaned the U.S. money to stave off the Depression? My friends, how much are the rites of Spring worth?

justthefacts
32304
Points
justthefacts 05/21/14 - 09:08 pm
6
2
"The Masters somwhere else"

That's pretty funny.

moderate321
345
Points
moderate321 05/21/14 - 09:47 pm
8
4
This is not unlike a city building a large stadium...

Except that the owners of the sports franchise are paying for it themselves. ANGC has skin in the game. They bought the property across Berckmans road and paid handsomely for it. Many cities have simply imposed eminent domain and essentially taken the land for large sporting venues. As Riverman points out, cities would spend millions if not billions to have the permanent home for the Super Bowl. We have the world's greatest sporting event located here and we all benefit from it.

Let them have Berckman's road. This is a good deal.

allhans
25542
Points
allhans 05/21/14 - 09:58 pm
7
2
These folks have a lot of

These folks have a lot of money invested in the area. I doubt they would just up and go.

Dixieman
21503
Points
Dixieman 05/21/14 - 10:35 pm
8
3
Not that big a deal

The rerouting would not move the road very far.
The current intersection with Washington Road is a mess; the new one would be better.
In conclusion: Meh.

kiwiinamerica
1071
Points
kiwiinamerica 05/21/14 - 10:50 pm
0
0
Just before they close the road....
Unpublished

and it becomes Augusta National property forever, I'm gonna walk my dog along there and let him take a poop on the grass.

It too, will forever be ANGC property.

LeConteSkier
635
Points
LeConteSkier 05/21/14 - 11:47 pm
7
4
Vera Frohman Sell Out!!!

Im sure the Augusta National would gladly buy your property if you do not like the outcome after Berckmans Road is realigned. Quit complaining, sell to the National and they will pay you more than enough to relocate your business. It's only a matter of time before the newly built CVS and Fresh Market are bought out and relocated. The shopping center behind Hooters and the Country Club is long overdue for a makeover and would likely attract the retail from National Hills with a renovation like where Whole Foods is going.

deestafford
42038
Points
deestafford 05/22/14 - 12:11 am
4
2
It's my understanding that the new road will be either...

It's my understanding that the new road will either be four or five lanes and it would change to two around the creek at the bottom of the hill. I'm interested to see how going from four or five to two is going to work.

countyman
23051
Points
countyman 05/22/14 - 12:43 am
7
9
Richmond County is booming!!!

The taxpayers in West Augusta should demand more and stop letting the private construction be the reason for all the improvements.. The development beginning construction soon in front of the Kroger will bring another stoplight to Washington road.. The Whole Foods/Jason Deli/Home Goods/DSW in the Washington Crossing shopping center and the 7,000 sq. ft. center at 2851 Washington rd are under construction. The traffic problem will only get worse and the city must become proactive..

The number one goal is to get away from the normal ugly suburban low density sprawl..

The focus should concentrate on new landscaping, bike lanes, sidewalks, attracting large mixed-use developments, becoming pedestrian friendly, and creating street level activity.. Washington road is ready to go vertical and 5-7 story towers can include a mixture of residential/commercial, hotel/residential/commercial, etc. The parcel in front of the Publix shopping center is the perfect example of what could become new street level activity..

The city should also build one large skywalk over Washington road..

Purchase the Arbys, New Peking, and Venus Adonis property.. Demolished all of the buildings and create new greenspace, fountains, etc..

The formers Church's Chicken property needs to be demolished.. The design of the store being placed right in the middle of the shopping center is ugly and doesn't need to reopen..

thauch12
7966
Points
thauch12 05/22/14 - 12:50 am
8
2
I'm all for it! Finally,

I'm all for it! Finally, there would be a fast and direct path from I-20/Riverwatch all the way to Walton Way without the hassle of having to either pointlessly add time to my commute by turning onto Washington Road or driving through Stanley Dr./dealing all the stop signs in the former neighborhood the National bought.

I hope this happens sooner rather than later. Considering the National's deep pockets and political clout, I'm betting it will and I for one cannot wait!

JRC2024
14077
Points
JRC2024 05/22/14 - 12:59 am
6
3
Let them reroute the road.

Let them reroute the road. The Augusta National is great for Augusta and they do so much and do not have to. The end result will be good. They are always first class. Get over it Fia Lux, it will be good in the end. Look at the property they own-It is beautiful now.

thauch12
7966
Points
thauch12 05/22/14 - 01:21 am
7
2
Not to mention, this will get

Not to mention, this will get rid of one of the RCSO's favorite speed-traps...I'm sure by now they have made millions standing at the bottom of the hill on Berckmans in front of Gate 7. Good riddance.

speakout77
54
Points
speakout77 05/22/14 - 04:44 am
1
6
Augusta National is thethe BEST thing to happen to Augusta

Dysfunctional management of city government leaves much to be desired for this "could be" great town. Hopefully new Mayor will bring Augusta into a modern era without the racial conflicts. Come on people of Richmond county, move forward with ambitious goals, work together and make this city the best! You have been given a gift with the Augusta National. Make the best of what you have! Talk with city of North Augusta and get some good ideas. That town is on the move!

Fiat_Lux
18775
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/22/14 - 07:21 am
4
6
Yeah, JRC2024, do look at that beautiful park-like property.

Take a good long look, even take some pictures, because if this traffic diversion-exclusion takes place you won't be seeing much of it for much longer. It will be behind the same kind of visual barriers that now surround the former boundaries of the ANGC. Surely you realize that?

Bodhisattva
10289
Points
Bodhisattva 05/22/14 - 07:39 am
6
7
“Now, Augusta National owns

“Now, Augusta National owns all property on both sides of the roads. They have no further use for traffic purposes" Oh really? Will that apply to every property owner in Augusta? If I buy two houses opposite each other I get to shut down the road? This is bull. I've shopped at Jay's for years. The exit at Berckman's is the easiest to get out of the parking lot. This is nothing more than the National, once again, stomping on the little guys, and throwing their money and power around and shoving their will upon the city and others. It's disgusting. If I'm not mistaken, they own both sides of Washington Road. Are they going to be allowed to shut it down? They have a golf tournament one week out of the year. It's a private club that doesn't bring tourism any other time. It's not like they allow people to come and tour and see the clubhouse or course yea round. They're a bunch of rich (I can't print what I think if them) who think their wealth makes them better than everyone else and the weak suckups who run this town let them get away with it and give the marching orders. They are the poster children for the quintessential wealthy jerks who look down on everyone else, throw a couple of bones of their millions and billions here and there, and they should rule the city and everyone should bow, kiss their rear ends, and say thank you for the priviledge of kissing it. It time someone stood up to these people. They're a bunch of jerks who belong to a country club, not a bunch of Gods. They can buy all of the property they want, they shouldn't be able to buy the streets and roads as well. Sorry you put your blessed, oh holy golf course in a nursery that had a city grow up around it. Since you have more money than God, buy a bunch of land and move the danged thing somewhere where you can be the Lords of your own little fiefdom. You can have thousand of acres surrounding it where no one can sell a ticket or a tee shirt or park a car or make a dime from your God forsaken tunamint except y'all. That's why they usually called them "country clubs" to start with. Move your rear ends to the country. Far out in the country so there's no traffic problems and no one will have to worry about the Gods of Golf dictating how the city of Augusta runs its traffic, it roads, its sidewalks, how its streams flow, whether a building will be too high so people might get a peek inside the "Holyland", or anything else. Leave. Please, and don't come back. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Fiat_Lux
18775
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/22/14 - 07:56 am
3
8
Of course, they could do that anyway

They could put up a visual barrier to their parking park land no matter what. As it is now, the ANGC has shared some of the beauty they created with all of Augusta instead of shutting it away for a few to enjoy.

It's a disturbing sign of the undeniable and escalating disparity between those of us who are more toward the national income mode than those who are more than 2-3 standard deviations above the mode. Yes, the ANGC members have been generous with financial gifts to MCG and with endowments, and those have helped and we'll continue to help many. But the beauty of that park is something wonderful that anyone rich or poor can experience. Masters Week aside, I think b it's their best gift to the people of Augusta, and it is very sad to contemplate its becoming off-limits to us.

itsanotherday1
54308
Points
itsanotherday1 05/22/14 - 08:03 am
7
7
Wow bod, such wealth

Wow bod, such wealth envy!

Vera is whining just to whine. Her business is not the type that depends on casual traffic. I would guess that the overwhelming majority of her patrons set out to go there, so won't be daunted because they can't travel Berkman's Road.

GnipGnop
13264
Points
GnipGnop 05/22/14 - 08:35 am
4
6
Told ya!

I said this a few years ago. One thing that this article fails to mention is that tho the ANC has bought all the houses they don't own any of the roads the houses were on either. For them to manipulate their way into buying a public road for a week of use as opposed to the thousands that use it daily is against every government principle I have seen a lot if you posters espouse. So they put a lot if money into the economy? They aren't going to take their ball and go home. If this is allowed it won't be to long before Washington road is rerouted so that it doesn't connect at Broad and Calhoun.

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