Augusta Commission members delayed action Monday on plans to renovate Augusta Municipal Golf Course and hire a new management firm to operate Augusta Public Transit.
With little time to review the golf plan – a proposal to renovate the course and merge it with the adjacent First Tee of Augusta – the public services committee voted 3-0 to schedule a work session next week to discuss it further.
The proposal, under development by city officials and Paul Simon, the chairman emeritus of First Tee of Augusta, calls for $1.9 million in renovations at the course, including $225,000 for grading, $301,000 for greens construction, $100,000 for bunkers and $285,000 for new cart paths.
If the proposal goes through, First Tee personnel would take over management of the city course, known as “The Patch.”
The city has operated the course since last fall, when private operator The Patch in Augusta LLC was discovered to have abandoned its lease months before and left several employees unpaid.
Another plan that found favor last week at a work session gained little ground Monday, with commissioners on the public services committee briefly discussing the hire of McDonald Transit to take over management of Augusta Public Transit before adjourning because a quorum was lost.
Commissioner Marion Williams, already upset that last week’s work session was scheduled after several commissioners said they’d be away on vacation, demanded to know why the McDonald bid award was before the commission only three weeks before the contract with current operator Mobility Transit is set to expire, with little backup plan in place.
“I’m really disappointed as to us giving out instructions,” Williams said. “This bus issue has been going on too long. We’re always pushed against the wall at the last minute.”
Commissioner Bill Lockett added, “it seems that every time a potential contract comes before this body, it’s always a rush.”
He then asked several questions about the proposal: “How much transit experience did the committee have? Was a cost-benefit analysis conducted, and if so, what it was it like? If this vendor is selected, will there be additional routes, or will we have the status quo? There are so many questions that need to be answered.”
City Administrator Fred Russell said the commission had agreed to the current schedule when it gave Mobility an extension to July 31.