Beautification plan for Augusta thoroughfares up for approval

Tax district

About two miles of downtown streets considered the “gateway” for tourists, businesspeople and other visitors entering the medical district will be beautified with trees, shrubs, sod and seasonal plantings under a plan up for approval today by the Augusta Commission.

 

The city’s contribution is a $185,000 irrigation system, plus the water that flows through it, said Jennifer Bowen, the vice president of product development for the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The bulk of funding expected to keep the road medians and rights of way landscaped in perpetuity will come from private donations, and Mayor Deke Copenhaver jump-started the process with a $10,000 donation to the Garden City Improvement Fund, Bowen said. Donors toward the $525,000 project include hospitals and downtown business owners, she said.

Where there are medians and rights of way, there would be a springtime planting along the new River Watch Parkway off-ramp onto Greene Street Extension, continuing along Greene Street to St. Sebastian Way, along St. Sebastian Way from Reynolds Street to Walton Way, and in the Walton Way median between 13th and 15th streets.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau, the designated overseer for the project, will bid out maintenance of the greenery to private firms, Bowen said.

The plan sailed through the commission’s Public Services Committee last week and is likely to pass without opposition today.

Tax district

The likelihood that Augusta will be home to a new chemical manufacturer grows closer with a commission vote today establishing a tax allocation district at a 180-acre site off Doug Bernard Parkway.

The district, with expected participation by the Richmond County Board of Education, would allow the city to finance infrastructure improvements at the site using property tax increments that increase as the site develops.

The unidentified manufacturer, expected to create up to 100 jobs, would arrive at an ideal time as Olin Corp. winds down operations at its plant, said Commissioner Matt Aitken, an Olin employee for 17 years.

“That’s a ready workforce right there,” Aitken said.

On Monday, the landowner and Development Authority of Richmond County withdrew a planning commission request to rezone the tract back to agricultural. Planning and Development Director George Patty said the owner wanted to rezone the tract to avoid higher 2012 property taxes if the company did not select Augusta.

Redistricting

Up for approval today is the redrawn commission and school board district map approved by an ad hoc committee last week. The map shifts the district lines to account for 2010 census data but must be approved by the Legislature, governor and U.S. Department of Justice.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215

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