One month after the Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative disappeared, opinions vary from business owners and city leaders on ways to keep streets and sidewalks tidy.
Michael Brown, a co-owner of Eros Bistro at 10th and Broad streets, has a daily routine of picking up beer bottles, plastic cups and cigarette butts and blowing leaves in front of his restaurant – all tasks he thinks the city is responsible for doing.
But Ooolee Bricker, the owner of Vintage Ooolee on Broad Street, said store owners need to take more ownership of the space in front of their businesses. She pitches in to keep the area in front of her store clean, often picking up cigarette butts.
The Augusta Commission voted in December not to renew CADI’s main funding source, the downtown Augusta Business Improvement District.
In the program’s absence, Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan said city workers will focus more on downtown maintenance on an as-needed basis. He met with CADI board members, asking them to keep the city aware of problems.
“My decision was that we could handle it with what (crews) we already had,” Shanahan said. “If we were getting complaints, then we would react accordingly.”
The time Bricker spends cleaning the sidewalk hasn’t increased in the past month, which she said shows the program’s ineffectiveness during its five-year tenure. Bricker was one of many property owners dissatisfied with the lack of services provided.
Brown said the city needs to improve litter pickup, especially on Saturday mornings.
“I don’t mind going out there and cleaning it, but if Friday and Saturday night are big occasions, that’s certainly a problem for me as a business owner and the city,” Brown said.
Downtown business owners agree that the city needs to devise a plan for cleaning after special events, something Shanahan said will be done on a case-by-case basis.
Bricker is especially concerned about St. Patrick’s Day; last year trash piles were
left behind after the parade.
“I hope the city will do their part,” Bricker said.
City Administrator Fred Russell said officials will meet with parade organizers to coordinate efforts, but the city will bear most of the cost.
Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, which administered CADI, said downtown was noticeably more dirty after January’s First Friday. Last fall, CADI crews were part of a plan to improve security and
cleanup during the festival.
“Without the CADI program, there’s no vehicle to do that anymore,” Woodard said.
She said keeping downtown clean is a question for every day of the month, not just First Friday.
“It’s back in the city’s hands now,” she said.