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Copenhaver addresses concerns in Harrisburg

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Mayor Deke Copenhaver faced a group of Augusta's most vocal critics -- the Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association -- on Thursday in a meeting that didn't turn hostile.

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Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver spoke to about 25 people at the Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association meeting at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Thursday. Residents expressed concern about absentee landlords, blight and crime.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver spoke to about 25 people at the Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association meeting at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Thursday. Residents expressed concern about absentee landlords, blight and crime.
Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

Lori Davis, who announced her candidacy for mayor a week ago and is the association's president, said she'd sternly warned members not to engage in "back and forth" with the mayor, and the gathering of about 25 complied.

The group has pushed for a chronic nuisance properties ordinance to combat absentee landlords and blight, only to have the city's lawyers who drafted the law declare it couldn't withstand a constitutional challenge.

Copenhaver told them that few of Augusta's blighted neighborhoods have the benefit of the incoming Kroc Center.

The center, now under construction, is a multipurpose community center funded largely by a $67.8 million grant made by the Salvation Army, part of a national $950 million endowment established by the widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.

"The economic impact of a $100 million investment, it's the halo effect that's really going to be the catalyst for the redevelopment of Harrisburg," Copenhaver said.

He said the nuisance properties ordinance had failed because Georgia is a stringent property rights state, but that a similar ordinance, utilizing a committee to evaluate properties, had seen success in Savannah.

"Why didn't our legal department come up with something defensible in Georgia courts?" asked Deb Presnell, whose Olde Town neighborhood association is experiencing similar problems with owners.

Copenhaver said only that the nuisance committee continues to meet.

The area has seen 62 drug busts during the past four months according to Sheriff Ronnie Strength, he added.

"I have noted a heightened presence," said Kroc Center coordinator Derek Dugan.

A Harrisburg resident questioned why a meth house in existence for years was finally busted.

"It would be wonderful to find out what the criteria was," she said.

After the meeting, Harrisburg activist and former commission candidate Butch Palmer said it was "interesting" to hear Copenhaver say chronic nuisance properties are an issue throughout the state.

"In Mayor Deke's job description, it's part of his job to uphold all the ordinances in Richmond County," he said.

Davis said she kept the meeting civil because she promised Copenhaver she would.

"I'll have a chance to debate him later," she said.

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corgimom
41448
Points
corgimom 07/09/10 - 06:19 am
0
0
Ok, but here's what I want to

Ok, but here's what I want to know. Why does Deke think that all the druggies of Harrisburg will magically stop using drugs once the Kroc Center is built?

But, you read it here. According to Deke, all of Harrisburg's problems will end once the Kroc Center is built.

Good luck with that, Deke.

bettyboop
8
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bettyboop 07/09/10 - 06:55 am
0
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I somehow can't imagine why

I somehow can't imagine why the Kroc Center.. like every other building that caters to the welfare crowd is not going to be a magnet for every lowlife in the district to loiter around and soil..........somehow I do not see it has a "halo" for more than a year or two..then just another part of the slum.

CobaltGeorge
186434
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CobaltGeorge 07/09/10 - 07:01 am
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betty, you pretty well said

betty, you pretty well said it.

Love your picture. Too bad so many others don't have the go-nads to post theirs.

Little Lamb
50775
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Little Lamb 07/09/10 - 08:13 am
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Corgimom wrote: But, you read

Corgimom wrote:

But, you read it here. According to Deke, all of Harrisburg's problems will end once the Kroc Center is built.

I suppose the Kroc Center will be completed about the time Lori Davis defeats him in November, or takes office in January?

Riverman1
99546
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Riverman1 07/09/10 - 08:39 am
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I have always supported the

I have always supported the Kroc Center because it will help the poor of Augusta. But realize Augusta got the grant because of our negatives, not our positives. It is designed to help the poor, whom we have plenty of.

I was actually surprised the Harrisburg neighborhood didn’t openly oppose the construction of the Kroc Center where it is being built. There will be homeless there in one facility or another 24 hours a day.

If you thought the residents around the Uptown VA complained a lot about the gate to the homeless shelter opening on their street, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 07/09/10 - 09:34 am
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I am sure I will stop on my

I am sure I will stop on my way to work or after and take a swim at the center with all the homeless. I feel sorry for the homeless but they will ruin any good things the Kroc Center has to offere unless they are kept away.

derekdugan
8
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derekdugan 07/09/10 - 09:56 am
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Hello all - Just wanted to

Hello all -

Just wanted to clarify, and we will begin in earnest to market the Kroc Center to the community soon, that The Salvation Army is not a homeless-only organization. It is a church first and formost, while one of its most visible outreach missions is towards the homeless, The Salvation Army church offers music lessons, educational opportunities and camps for kids among other programs. It was these programs that Joan Kroc sought to expand in the Kroc Centers, not the homeless programming, which will remain seperate. The Kroc Center is an arts, education and recreation center aimed at the entire community with an equal balance of programming youth to seniors and higher education to lower. I'll check in frequently if any of you have any questions. Thanks!

reader54
360
Points
reader54 07/09/10 - 10:02 am
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0
I'd just like to say that I

I'd just like to say that I think that it is a wonderful gift that the Kroc family bestowed upon the less fortunate. It would be nice if more billionaires followed their example. The Buffet, Gates and Turner families are leading the charge in furthering a trend.
You have these problems in every city of any size and always will for the foreseeable future. These people are not going to disappear so what do you suggest that we do with them? Of course, there are malingerers but most just don't have the intelligence or had the guidance to overcome their situation. That said, what are the alternative suggestions? Personally, I think that the downtown area is dead and will not be resurrected anytime soon. Baseball stadium or not. Just look to the east, south and west of Broad St. Most that go downtown, do so for their jobs and get out ASAP. The levee obstructs the sereneness of the river and always will. Thus far, all of the grandiose plans have failed downtown and, IMO, it's not going to change.
So, as a society, what do you suggest that we do with the poor?

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 07/09/10 - 10:35 am
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Lamb... Mayor Davis does have

Lamb... Mayor Davis does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?...
also kudos to Susan McCord for pointing out in this article that it was the inhouse law department that was charged with drafting a defensible ordinance...which they, themselves immediately declared unconstitutional, rather than drafting one that would comply with Georgia law> The law dept could have simply advised the CNPO that Georgia law would make drafting any tough CNPO difficult and perhaps the best course of action would be to lobby to amend georgia state law to get tougher on absentee landlords. Instead they engaged in a farce that wasted everyone's energy and time.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 07/09/10 - 12:49 pm
0
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Yeah Emery, It seems to me

Yeah Emery, It seems to me the "good ole boys" in Augusta political circles were more interested in protecting slumlords with multiple properties' incomes, than protecting the average citizen who lives in these affected neighborhoods.Only when they saw Lori's message getting traction did they scrounge up a couple of weak ordinances from other cities.Cities with higher per capita crimes rates I might add. If these other ordinances are so great why have they not been effective in the two or three years they've been in effect.
The CNPO Committee tried to draft a tough ordinance but I firmly beleive the legal dep and others were told,"It ain't gonna happen so give it up".Why? because the "powers that be" LOVE having crime in areas where they know where it is. Namely away from them. Then they can continue to make money off areas they are trying to develope.Like downtown.And at the same time slumlords (who most city leaders know by name) can continue to make money as well. As always follow the money. Lori, keep rattling their cages.
We love it!!

derekdugan
8
Points
derekdugan 07/09/10 - 01:35 pm
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For more information on what

For more information on what the Kroc Center is, I have just uploaded some videos to our Facebook page "Kroc Center of Augusta" about Joan Kroc. I encourage you to watch it and see what the Augusta Kroc Center will be and welcome your comments!

Thanks,

Derek Dugan

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 07/09/10 - 01:54 pm
0
0
One thing I can say for

One thing I can say for Augusta is that the philanthropists in our area were able to raise the necessary funds to bring the Kroc Center to Augusta. This speaks volumes for these families. Many cities have been chosen for Kroc Centers and have not been able to raise their portion. We do have people in Augusta who are caring and prove it everyday. Also, Harrisburg met the demographic that was put forth by Joan Kroc for where these centers were to be be located. We who live in Harrisburg do not believe that the halo effect will clean up the area. It is going to take way more than that. It is going to take the combined efforts of a new ordinance, along with a new mind set in law enforcement, and the continued help of the few home owners in Harrisburg to get the job done properly. Bad landlords must be held accountable and brought into the equation. If all of these things do not work together in harmony, we might have more of the same. The Kroc Center can not do it alone, and anyone who thinks this is grossly misinformed.

countyman
22316
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countyman 07/09/10 - 02:34 pm
0
0
The usual misinformation by

The usual misinformation by the same few. Kroc Centers arcoss the united states have thousands of members... The Kroc Center will attract alot thousands of more people than the YMCA in West Augusta.

iletuknow
8
Points
iletuknow 07/09/10 - 02:38 pm
0
0
For Harrisburg,the worst

For Harrisburg,the worst place for the Kroc center is in the parasites backyard.It will attract more to move in,they will drain the center's budget dry,and then start pilfering from the locals. The only positive effect will be the need for increased security at the center as problems will certainly start soon after the opening.

countyman
22316
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countyman 07/09/10 - 02:51 pm
0
0
Kroc Centers have raised the

Kroc Centers have raised the property values everywhere they're built... Some people don't know much about Kroc Centers or the Augusta center... Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, Greenville, Norfolk, Green Bay, Phoenix, Honolulu, etc have or will have a Kroc Center in the future.. The Augusta center has a seperate First Stop center away from the Kroc Center.

And downtown Augusta is definitely not dead... We still have alot of work to do in the future. But our downtown is vibrant, nice, trendy, and growing. The area is continuing to get better every year.

This picture below is a regular Mon-Wed afternoon on broad street. Thurs-Sunday is much more crowded downtown.
http://visitaugustaga.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/broad-street-sidewalk.jpg

countyman
22316
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countyman 07/09/10 - 03:06 pm
0
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Hmm??? The impact of a Kroc

Hmm??? The impact of a Kroc Center??

Coeur D'Alene, Idaho is a small city of 40,000 people. Their Kroc Center had 2,000 members before it opened. One year later it has a total of 20,500 members. 630K people visited their Kroc Center in a year period. The staff increased from 70 employees to 272 in one year's time.
http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_ba2d9c3c-1292-5d95-b886-...

Riverman1
99546
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Riverman1 07/09/10 - 04:57 pm
0
0
I can totally see that a Kroc

I can totally see that a Kroc center in Idaho will do well for obvious reasons.

The one in Augusta is a definite asset. I am by no means against it and maybe they can manage it in a way that allows the general public to use it along with the poor. I guess they have methods in place to control the situation.

Riverman1
99546
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Riverman1 07/09/10 - 05:02 pm
0
0
Countyman, I went to your

Countyman, I went to your link about the Idaho Kroc Center and it was informative. They have the whole town using the gyms and things. It really does appear to be a fantastically successful place. I take it they sell memberships, but also provide "scholarships" for those who can't pay.

bettyboop
8
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bettyboop 07/09/10 - 06:02 pm
0
0
LOL...A Kroc Center in a

LOL...A Kroc Center in a small town in Idaho does well......well duh!
Now can we compare all the similarities with DOWNTOWN Augusta and say they will have the same glorious results?
Sorry countyman I know you truly believe what you write and I guess I am just so jaded that I see the glass as half empty...the last year and a half has done that to a lot of us.........(pssst CG thanks for the compliment..but I won't leave it up for long cause it's blowing my cover!)

countyman
22316
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countyman 07/09/10 - 06:53 pm
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Bettyboop... I agree it's a

Bettyboop... I agree it's a small town. But the cities on my 3:51 pm post aren't small towns at all. Chicago is the 2nd or 3rd most important city in the united states. Atlanta and Philadelphia are in the top 10.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 07/09/10 - 06:59 pm
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0
Countyman... so noted.

Countyman... so noted.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 07/09/10 - 07:52 pm
0
0
why wasn't deke at the ribbon

why wasn't deke at the ribbon cutting for the new plasma center on wrightsboro road? its a valuable asset that provides a much needed income source for uh.. the bottom rung of society. plus students.

derekdugan
8
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derekdugan 07/09/10 - 10:22 pm
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countyman - thanks for the

countyman - thanks for the link to the article! I haven't seen that yet and will put it on the Kroc Center facebook page (little plug: Kroc Center of Augusta) for everyone to get a true grasp of what we are planning. I encourage anyone who wants to know more about the Kroc Center and those who want to offer suggestions to please visit krocaugusta.org and contact me for more information. Please note that we are in the process of upgrading the website, so there will be a big change soon. Thanks to everyone for getting the truth about the Kroc Center out there and we'll win the rest of you over eventually! Also, harrisburgwillrise is right - the Kroc Center cannot change Harrisburg alone, but as the Mayor said at the meeting referenced above, what other neighborhood in Augusta has a $100 million investment to help lead the way towards changing their neighborhood!

Discussionstarter
530
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Discussionstarter 07/10/10 - 07:34 am
0
0
My vote is for Lori! Where

My vote is for Lori! Where has Deke been for the last two years as all of this Harrisburg discussion has been going on? I guess his PR person told him to stop by Harrisburg for a photo-op.... since elections are approaching. Harrisburg can be turned around! My vote is for Lori!

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 07/11/10 - 09:10 pm
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0
derek, laney walker got a $50

derek, laney walker got a $50 million investment to "help lead the way towards changing their neighborhood". Not poking fun at the Kroc Center. Just trying to remind everyone how costly that TEE thing was.

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