Nearly 100 people on Monday attended the first of two public forums on the 20-year master plan for downtown Augusta and North Augusta.
The plan, coordinated by planning organization Augusta Tomorrow and overseen by Boston-based consulting firm ICON Architecture Inc., will provide the blueprint for improvements during the next two decades.
Top issues highlighted during the forum included:
- Enforcing the state Urban Redevelopment Act, which gives local governments the authority to redevelop or condemn blighted property
- Helping expand higher education, such as Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia, into the urban core, similar to what Savannah has done with the Savannah College of Arts and Design
- Developing more parking spaces
- Improving public safety services
- Attracting a supermarket or health food store
- Creating a shuttle bus between the medical district and downtown
- Improving downtown streetscapes
- Capitalizing on the downtown historic district
- Increasing the number of, and improve the promotion of, outdoor performing arts events
- Providing ways to increase public access to natural resources such as the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal
-- Damon Cline, business editor
MASTER PLAN AT A GLANCE
CONTRACTOR: ICON Architecture Inc., a Boston-based planning and design firm specializing in sustainable development and urban reuse projects
COST: $250,000; 50 percent private sector contributions; 38 percent Augusta-Richmond County; 12 percent North Augusta
DEFINED AREA: Downtown Augusta and North Augusta; specific boundaries to be determined later
EXPECTED COMPLETION DATE: December or January
NEXT PUBLIC HEARING: Today, 4 to 6:30 p.m., North Augusta Public Safety Hut, 501 E. Buena Vista Ave.; follow-up hearings to be scheduled during summer or early fall.