'Slum' designation, smoking, cooling tower return to city committees

A revived debate on designating all of downtown Au­gus­ta a “slum” to renovate the government’s downtown campus and a renewed request by Augusta Riverfront for a shared air-conditioning tower highlight Monday agendas of Augusta Commission committees.

 

Commissioner Wayne Guil­foyle, who heads the city’s Fi­nance Committee, said he was unaware the “slum” item had been placed on the agenda.

“There are going to be questions about it,” he said after seeing the item Thurs­day.

He maintained, as other commissioners have, that the city need not designate all of downtown as a “slum” for the bonding project but only the block containing the Munic­ipal Building.

Heated debate ensued last month after City Admin­is­tra­tor Fred Rus­sell and special city counsel Jim Plun­kett revealed the proposal as part of plans to fund $26.5 million of a $40 million renovation of the Municipal Buil­ding using tax-exempt bonds available under Geor­gia redevelopment laws for blighted areas.

Another item previously dismissed by the commission returns for committee review Monday.

Augusta Riverfront LLC, headed by Paul Simon and sharing management with Augusta Chronicle owner Morris Communications Co., wants to install a centralized cooling system to serve the city-owned Augusta Conven­tion Center and Conference Center and the adjoining Marriott hotel, which runs all three facilities.

The plant, which would be funded by Augusta Riverfront but placed on city property, would replace several aging rooftop units and in the long term lower utilities bills for all, Simon said.

Despite a committee’s unanimous approval of the tower, the commission later failed to approve it after several commissioners questioned how the resources were to be shared among the entities.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

Other matters going before Augusta Commission committees Monday include:

- A discussion about revoking Skittlez Bar and Grill’s alcohol and business licenses for repeatedly admitting underage patrons and serving them alcohol. The Gordon Highway nightclub was already on probation, and the sheriff’s office is alleging the violations

- Discussion of amending the city smoking ordinance to restrict smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants

- An update on the city’s latest request for proposals for firms to manage, lease or buy Augusta Municipal Golf Course

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