Mayor Bob Pettit opened his first town hall meeting Thursday with an anecdote about how two people can see the same thing differently.
A friend of Pettit’s recently moved from Evans to North Augusta, and said what made up his mind was Columbia County giving permission for a Super Walmart very near his home.
The man and his wife put the house on the market, but couldn’t imagine who would buy it. It sold quickly, however, and the young couple who bought it said they couldn’t imagine why anyone would sell a house with a Walmart so conveniently located nearby.
“I feel a little bit like that’s what we face,” Pettit said. “You have an idea, I may have an opposite one. But if we can be reasonable, and agree to disagree on some things, that’s OK. I think we have to keep in mind where we’re heading, not necessarily the road we’re taking.”
About 125 people turned out for the town hall. Some questions were answered on the spot. Others will be later, the mayor promised.
A woman asked how to report a “dangerous open drain” in front of her house.
“You’ve just done it,” Pettit said, pledging to see to it right away.
A group presented a petition with 60 signatures, asking the city to build three more tennis courts at Riverview Activity Center. Pettit said he’d already asked Rick Myer, director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to look into it.
Steve Donahue advocated for more transparency in city government, asking whether city council meetings could be live-streamed and if the city would report monthly on whether revenue projections for Riverside Village at Hammond’s Ferry are being met.
Pettit agreed that live-streaming sounded like a good idea, and said the city was tracking Riverside Village revenues weekly and would make sure to highlight them.
Donahue also complained about slow progress in road work on Buena Vista Avenue.
“The biggest problem is when SCDOT bid that project, they put a completion date on it as fall of 2018,” City Administrator Todd Glover said. “That company can go bid other projects and pull their crews to work on those other projects. …There are no financial incentives to finish early.”
Other questions involved how to get abandoned houses demolished, calming traffic on West Avenue, improving cultural diversity and making it easier for the handicapped to enjoy riverside parks.
The bottom line, Pettit proclaimed, is that “North Augusta is booming.”
Permits issued for residential construction so far this year were nearly $53 million. The total for all of last year was $6 million. New commercial permits are at nearly $33 million, alterations to houses are $10 million and miscellaneous — mostly site permits – are at nearly $12 million. Year to date, the total for permits for growth and renovation in North Augusta total $107 million, he said. Last year’s total was $80 million for the entire year.
“Rest assured we’re doing best to make sure growth is appropriate and well-managed,” Pettit said.
Reach James Folker at (706) 823-3338 or firstname.lastname@example.org