Plan calls for new James Brown statue to adorn roundabout

A new statue of James Brown would go up in the center of a roundabout being built at James Brown Boulevard and Twiggs Street under plans to enhance tourism through a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

 

The grant application, going before an Augusta Commission committee Tuesday as information, would help fund the “James Brown Journey,” a 1.5-mile walk or drive under development that would complement existing city Housing and Community Development efforts, mostly residential, on Pine, 11th, Holley and Twiggs streets, according to Director Hawthorne Welcher.

The James Brown Journey would run along James Brown Boulevard between Walton Way and Twiggs Street, with five artistic “stops” along the journey ending at the new statue, according to the agenda item.

The $200,000 grant requires a 100 percent match, but Welcher said the department has the funds.

Tourism and events take center stage during Tuesday commission committee meetings, with Commissioner Marion Williams calling to hire a special events manager of the sort he says neighboring Columbia County uses to orchestrate large concerts and festivals at community venues.

Williams said he’s been deeply dissatisfied attending recent events put on by the city Recreation and Parks department.

“We need somebody that knows how to get events in,” he said. “We’ve got to promote our city and understand what attractions we have.”

Commissioner Bill Fennoy is calling to discuss Lake Olmstead Stadium, which soon will host the final game of the Augusta GreenJackets as the team moves to a new facility in North Augusta.

In another matter, Fennoy is calling to rename the John C. Calhoun Expressway as “Veterans Expressway” after an effort to remove the name of Calhoun, an ardent proponent of slavery, from the road failed earlier this year. Tuesday agendas include no mention of last week’s request by the Augusta branch of the NAACP to remove the Confederate statue from Broad Street.

City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson is seeking commission approval to award the Greater Augusta Arts Council $35,000 to subsidize the popular annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival. The 37th annual festival attracts some 80,000 visitors and results in $1.7 million in visitor spending, the agenda item states.

Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority is seeking a memorandum of understanding with the city to administer $5.1 million in sales tax funds allocated to the $23 million Miller Theater renovation project, which allows the theater to obtain and use state and federal tax credits. The theater has raised its required 25 percent match.

The Augusta Sports Council will present information about the organization and upcoming Augusta events.

Environmental Services is seeking commission approval to end the Recycling Perks rewards program Dec. 31 and implement a Keep Augusta Beautiful program Jan. 1. Eliminating Recycling Perks will save the city $273,806 annually while Keep Augusta Beautiful will cost up to $200,000, according to the agenda item. Other recommendations going for approval include eliminating a $750,000 annual street sweeping contract and funding the service using stormwater utility fees.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

 

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