Narrowing road to be studied

Sara Caldwell/Staff
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Shouting "We will not let MCG take our black heritage," a couple dozen protesters lined Laney-Walker Boulevard early Thursday to protest a proposal by Georgia Health Sciences University to close a two-block section of the road to create a pedestrian mall to honor the road's two namesakes.

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Lorie Myles, of Augusta, yells as she stands at the intersection of Laney-Walker and R.A. Dent boulevards in Augusta. A couple dozen people gathered early Thursday to protest a proposal by Georgia Health Sciences University to close a two-block section of the road.   Sara Caldwell/Staff
Sara Caldwell/Staff
Lorie Myles, of Augusta, yells as she stands at the intersection of Laney-Walker and R.A. Dent boulevards in Augusta. A couple dozen people gathered early Thursday to protest a proposal by Georgia Health Sciences University to close a two-block section of the road.

GHSU President Ricardo Azziz, however, said he has not heard from those who organized the protest and that the school is using a state grant to study narrowing the road instead.

While some in the small crowd talked about traffic problems and congestion from any alterations to the road, others connected it to other issues, such as the closing of the former Gilbert Manor housing complex, the election of Commissioner Matt Aitken to the district's seat, and a historic church on Jones Street that lost parking because of a state road expansion.

Minister Janice Jenkins said the community has had enough.

"I don't know why we have to compromise," she said. "We have gone through this over and over again where it always seems like we get the smallest piece of the pie."

In December, the university asked a committee of the Augusta Commission to consider closing the two-block section of Laney-Walker that bisects the campus in favor of creating a pedestrian mall and green space that would honor Lucy Craft Laney and the Rev. C.T. Walker.

Many in the crowd said Azziz should have spoken to them directly about it. Azziz, too, said he is vexed by the lack of communication with the community.

"One of the things I'm actually stricken by is how little any of those individuals, whoever it is that is protesting, has communicated with us," he said Monday. "In fact that they've never communicated with us."

A university spokeswoman said a protest organizer did call to talk to the university this week.

Some in the crowd also cited the road's historical significance. Minister James Ivery, who lives in nearby Ervin Towers, said it could become a civil rights issue.

"You don't alter a historic boulevard or street," he said. "To alter this historical boulevard for the sake of safety is ludicrous."

Marilyn McKinnie remembers it was Gwinnett Street when she went to Lucy C. Laney High School in 1976. The name change came later that year, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives. McKinnie noted many improvements to the area, such as new housing and a stadium for Laney High. The closing would not be welcome, she said.

"It's going to be so much congestion," McKinnie said. "I think they should put in some speed bumps or an over-ramp, or something like that."

In fact, the university is now using a state grant that came before Azziz's arrival last year to look at narrowing the road from four lanes to two.

"We're looking at that proposal to see if we can create something that would be acceptable to both the community and to our university to increase the safety as well as the beauty of that area," he said. "So we're looking at alternatives to try to work on a compromise with community leaders. But we have not actually heard much from the community leaders."

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jrbfromga
448
Points
jrbfromga 06/09/11 - 07:53 am
0
0
'Your Black Heritage' ended
Unpublished

'Your Black Heritage' ended at what was once Thirteenth St. It never extended to the part of Gwinnett St. where the Medical College is.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 06/09/11 - 07:54 am
0
0
I wonder if Janice Jenkins

I wonder if Janice Jenkins the minister is the same as Janice Jenkins who was on the civic center authority and Janice Jenkins the nurse. If it is she sure wears alot of hats. I don't get it with these people. What is wrong with progress?

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 06/09/11 - 08:02 am
0
0
Does it always have to be

Does it always have to be about race? Geeze, give it a rest. No one listens to you anymore.

mtxbass1
0
Points
mtxbass1 06/09/11 - 08:03 am
0
0
A civil rights issue?

A civil rights issue? Seriously?

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 06/09/11 - 08:05 am
0
0
Sounds like the pedestrian

Sounds like the pedestrian mall is honoring black heritage by who it would be named after. Regardless, streets do not belong to a certain group of people. As far as Mr. Ivery, he must think he is another Jessie Jackson, or Al sharpton because he sure seems to have his nose in everything that goes on all around the area even in surrounding towns. A civil rights issue? Please....

Gigi73
0
Points
Gigi73 06/09/11 - 08:06 am
0
0
@

@ WW1949........................."these people," what people are you refering to?

SlapShot2
0
Points
SlapShot2 06/09/11 - 08:19 am
0
0
I guess this isnt "cool"

I guess this isnt "cool" either.

Frita's Boss
180
Points
Frita's Boss 06/09/11 - 08:22 am
0
0
gigi "these people" would

gigi

"these people" would refer to the people protesting. You wouldn't be trying to race bait, would you? Nah, I didn't think so.

wwud
0
Points
wwud 06/09/11 - 08:30 am
0
0
@ww1949.............No it is

@ww1949.............No it is not the same Janice Jenkins.

Riverman1
94467
Points
Riverman1 06/09/11 - 08:44 am
0
0
Those Laney Walker folks are

Those Laney Walker folks are used to big buyouts when the city wants to do something. They got $60 million when the TEE was approved. Why shouldn't they get another $50 million to close Laney Walker? Every resident down there deserves a house equal to those on the Hill paid for by the county. Put some money up and come back and talk to them about closing the street.

Frita's Boss
180
Points
Frita's Boss 06/09/11 - 08:46 am
0
0
These people protesting

These people protesting should try to beautify their community. It is a dump over there. Kudos to MCG for TRYING to make that area nicer. Also these people protesting should try talking to the leaders at MCG before you start protesting. The mere fact that NOBODY has lifted a finger to discuss this project shows how very, very, very little that community cares about safety and making it nicer to live.

This is not a civil rights issue. This is called progress and it blows my mind why these people are protesting.

allhans
24988
Points
allhans 06/09/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
Protesting against progress

Protesting against progress doesn't sound very reasonable, what is going on here anyhow.

Are we to the point that we protest against any and everything we aren't happy with.

Dixieman
17627
Points
Dixieman 06/09/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
They are not renaming it the

They are not renaming it the Anthony Weiner Pedestrian Plaza. Why is this a problem if they just call it the Laney-Walker Pedestrian Plaza?? I really do not see the problem here.

floridasun
381
Points
floridasun 06/09/11 - 08:52 am
0
0
This is nothing more than a

This is nothing more than a shakedown by black ministers for a monetary payout. I am sure if GHSU or someone would offer them payment, they would soon forget about the so called historical significance of Laney Walker between 15th St and RA Dent Blvd.
If they are so concerned about history on Laney Walker Blvd why aren't these "ministers" concerned about the Augusta Housing Authority's plans to demolish the Immaculate Conception School on LW Blvd. This building was listed on Historic Augusta's most endangered list but they don't seem to care at all about this real piece of history

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 06/09/11 - 09:32 am
0
0
They are embarrassing their

They are embarrassing their entire community and sentencing anyone that has anything to do with them to poverty.

Nobody can hire a bunch of trouble makers. Where is the outrage over all the black on black crime, or the Black on everybody crime?
Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets Crickets

MD2013
101
Points
MD2013 06/09/11 - 09:39 am
0
0
Go for it Azziz! The student

Go for it Azziz! The student body is behind closing Laney-Walker down!

crackingup
0
Points
crackingup 06/09/11 - 09:54 am
0
0
I work at GHSU and support

I work at GHSU and support the closing the road. I don't know how many times I have came close to being hit by a car not paying attention. This would do nothing but good for the campus!!!

jmills213
0
Points
jmills213 06/09/11 - 09:55 am
0
0
You know this whole thing

You know this whole thing isn't just about the look of the campus or the convenience, it's about safety! I have work at MCG and have for a long time. I can't even count how many times I have almost been run down by a car on Laney Walker b/c they don't want to stop for pedestrians. Even when I was "very" pregnant and would have to cross to get the office people would just pretend like there was no one crossing and came very close to hitting me. If they want to keep their road, then they should be more responsible when they are driving down it! And I think everyone that has to cross that road every day feels the same way!

bigclaude
350
Points
bigclaude 06/09/11 - 10:00 am
0
0
As usual, Dr. Azziz can't

As usual, Dr. Azziz can't seem to get it through his head that this isn't LA.

One may be able to push through a change that will affect the black community in LA without there being a huge fuss about it, but that is not going to happen in Augusta, Georgia.

The last quote in the story (One of the things I’m actually stricken by is how little any of those individuals, whoever it is that is protesting, has communicated with us. In fact that they’ve never communicated with us") illustrates how clueless that he still is.

If he expects rational behavior by leaders in this community when there is a potential race issue invovled then he is living in dreamland. Azziz must first gain an understanding of the troubled race relations in Augusta (which is not really different from many other cities in the South) before he can truly figure out the best way to go about dealing with this issue, and other issues that may cause tension within the Black community.

You are NOT in LA anymore doctor!!! This is the south, and no amount of "uncool" insults floated by you is going to change that.

countyman
21702
Points
countyman 06/09/11 - 10:19 am
0
0
The main issue at hand has

The main issue at hand has nothing to do with race.. I didn't hear anybody make a big deal after Gilbert Manor was demolished.. GHSU is getting ready to open the $112 million Dental schoool on the property.. I find it funny how Dr. Azziz wants everybody to communicate with him.. I wonder how much reaching out he's doing by himself.. I don't mean having disscussions with the mayor or other GHSU officials.. I mean talking to the pastor at Tabernacle and the people at the Laney Walker museum..

By the comments you can tell some people don't get out of their bubble much.. Maybe you should actually spend sometime talking to the people living in LW before talking about them.. There is a new business center, homes, townhomes, street lights, parks, etc so the entire area is far from being a dump.. The additions to Tabernacle church, LCL high school, and AR Johnson helped the streetscape in the areaa..

People in Laney Walker don't expect a huge buyout eiither... Betty Beard a former commissioner was one of the main people behind the Laney Walker/Bethlehem development and not the actual citizens living there...

Many churches have built affordable residential around the area for hardworking people.. Several local ministers, community activist, etc, are trying to make the area a better place to live..

bclicious
770
Points
bclicious 06/09/11 - 10:18 am
0
0
I can see that there is no

I can see that there is no chance pleasing either MCG or the people of Laney Walker. The only clear solution is to move MCG, change the name of Laney Walker to Copenhaver Ave, and reroute all traffic away from Copenhave Ave in order to leave all the residents in peace.

countyman
21702
Points
countyman 06/09/11 - 10:32 am
0
0
Everybody will come to a

Everybody will come to a reasonable solution in the end.. I think Dr. Azziz should have told the truth from the start.. The main issue isn't safety for his students, but rather beautify the campus and making the surrounding area fit into a university atmosphere..

Also, somebody at GHSU should have told him that Laney Walker is a historic area.. They don't have a Laney Walker museum for no reason..

If middle and high school students at AR Johnson and Laney Walker can cross the street safely everyday.. Then of course young adults in the Medical District can do the same.. There's heavier traffic around AR Johnson than around GHSU..

highhp57
0
Points
highhp57 06/09/11 - 10:51 am
0
0
Historic? It's historically

Historic? It's historically been a fine example of urban blight. There's been enough taxpaper dollars dumped into that area to have built another West Lake. These "ministers" only take advantage of the people they pretend to help.

countyman
21702
Points
countyman 06/09/11 - 11:45 am
0
0
I think some people should

I think some people should actually visit the area and talk to the people living there.. Instead of getting their information from the newspaper or listening to the comments on the Augusta Chronicle..

Yes, The Laney Walker/Bethlehem area is a historic district... The area didn't look the same decades ago..

Please tell me how much taxpayer money has been dumped into Laney Walker?? Because the West Lake comment makes me think you obviously have no idea. If you referring to the $37.5 million the same few people mention daily.. Keep it mind the money is coming from the hotel tax and not Richmond county taxpayers.. The money is spread out over a 50 year period..

Last time I checked the people who are talking bad about the ministers in the area.. I notice the ministers do attend the monthly Laney Walker meetings and not you. The same people complaining about local ministers didn't help them build the complex off Wrightsboro rd or any other residential areas..

JAndy
4
Points
JAndy 06/09/11 - 11:35 am
0
0
Chillin.. Unfortunately it

Chillin.. Unfortunately it has to be about race. Everything around here is about race. To settle some of the issues thngs should have been named differently to accomodate the people of Augusta. If it is named after a black person whites complain. If it is named after other things. Blacks complain that their heritage is violated.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 06/09/11 - 11:41 am
0
0
The Flag of the Confederate
Unpublished

The Flag of the Confederate States of America is historic, yet it is considered racist and therefore NOT WORTHY of protecting. What's wrong with this scenario?

countyman
21702
Points
countyman 06/09/11 - 11:53 am
0
0
JAndy... Certain people want

JAndy... Certain people want the public to think everything around here focuses on race.. Many people are profiting from keeping people divided over the race issue.. The average person living in Augusta could care less about the issue.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver won two straight elections with over 60% of the vote..

Matt Aitken won the district many people said a white male could never win..

gutdawg
8
Points
gutdawg 06/09/11 - 12:05 pm
0
0
One question for County Man,

One question for County Man, why would the students at either A. R. Johnson or Laney need to cross Laney Walker? Isn't both of the schools buildings all on one side of the street? The only time that Laney students should need to cross the road after arriving at school is for an outdoor sporting event. Your statement about heavier traffic around A. R. Johnson than GHSU is wrong...most of the traffic on Laney Walker thru GHSU turns towards University and St. Sebastion before entering the LW area. GHSU has ( and I'm guessing ) probably 10 times more students, staff, and faculty than Laney and Johnson combined, so obviously the safety factor is multiplied as well.

countyman
21702
Points
countyman 06/09/11 - 12:22 pm
0
0
Gutdawg... Several students

Gutdawg... Several students attending Laney do have to walk home after school is over.. The students must cross Laney Walker Boulevard similar to everybody else.. The footballl stadium and the high school are located on opposite sides on the street too.

There's middle and high school students at AR Johnson who live in the immediate area..

Concerning the traffic patterns around the Laney Walker area.. Do you mean over the 24 hr period or from say 8am to 5pm?

I still think the traffic on Laney Walker from Wrightsboro/RA Dent to East Augusta is heavier than the little stretch between 15th and Wrightsboro/RA Dent...

If the main issue is safety then GHSU should be focusing on 15th street first instead of Laney Walker..

Fiesty
0
Points
Fiesty 06/09/11 - 12:26 pm
0
0
GO FOR IT Dr. Azziz, this is

GO FOR IT Dr. Azziz, this is way to the new millenium so that our institution will be competitive not only in US but international. We need the best researchers, students, staff and faculties to shape the 'new' and innovative GHSU! HURRAY to all your hard work and vision!

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