City officials got a firsthand look Monday at maintenance and safety issues along Riverwalk Augusta, what the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau said is the city’s third-most-popular tourist attraction.
During a brief break in morning rainstorms, the Augusta Commission, mayor and some city staffers examined muddy sidewalks, overgrown landscaping and lighting still not repaired since the late-night beating and robbery of two tourists on May 3.
Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson, who arranged the walking tour, urged the group to take note of any issues they saw while staffers made a list.
“We want people to see and feel comfortable on the riverwalk,” Johnson said, pointing out overgrown and poorly placed decorative plants that obscure nighttime visibility. Visitors “don’t feel that the visual transparency is there,” he said.
Johnson said the tour will allow staffers to address “low-hanging fruit” while helping the body develop concepts for further improvement at riverwalk using, he hopes, future special purpose local option sales tax revenue.
“You see the bulb up top there, but there’s nothing in the center there,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason. Several of the decorative lampposts had broken glass or bulbs. On May 3, more than 30 of the lights were out.
“It’s a good thing that we’re raising awareness of what goes on downtown,” Commissioner Donnie Smith said. “(Riverwalk) is something that we need to maintain,” he said.
That might be possible with revenues generated by increased bookings at the riverwalk amphitheater, Smith said. A group led by businessman Brad Usry is seeking to take on promotions at the amphitheater, which currently has no one marketing it, he said.
Commissioner Mary Davis said the tour would help the city address pressing issues such as lighting and landscaping maintenance.
“You’ve got to put things at the forefront, and we haven’t,” she said.