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MCG's Azziz supports closing part of Laney-Walker

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Medical College of Georgia President Ricardo Azziz wants to create a more attractive and unified campus by closing a portion of Laney-Walker Boulevard, turning it into a park that honors the street's namesakes.

Dr. Ricardo Azziz  Special
Special
Dr. Ricardo Azziz

But some in Augusta say it would be an affront to the historic nature of the street and a burden on a community that has already surrendered the former Gilbert Manor area to the school.

Azziz on Monday addressed a subcommittee of the Augusta Commission about the school's request. The request was received as information while the committee waits on traffic reports and the results of town hall forums about the potential closure, the first of which is tonight.

Laney-Walker, between R.A. Dent Boulevard and 15th Street, essentially cuts MCG's campus in two, and detracts from its appearance, Azziz said.

"Our campus does not look like a university campus," he said. "The students and the faculty have come to me and said, 'We want a campus that is unified. We want a campus that looks good. We want a campus that has green space. We want a campus that is attractive.' And I can't blame them."

The area sees about 8,500 vehicles a day, but the city is still doing a study about how many of them travel all the way through the section, said Steve Cassell, the city traffic engineer. There is already an extensive plan for improving the 15th Street corridor nearby, he said.

"Things are going to have to change in the area," he said. Work also would likely have to be done on Walton Way should the section be closed, he said.

Closing the street would allow the school more green space and would be used to create a park that honors the street's namesakes, Lucy Craft Laney and the Rev. C.T. Walker, Azziz said.

"We recognize that change is painful," he said. "But at the end of the day we must change to adapt. The world is changing around us. We need to ensure that this university remains here, growing and continuing to employ and care for Augustans."

But closing that portion of Laney-Walker would be a blow to the community, said Dr. Mallory Millender, the chairman of a committee to place historical markers on Laney-Walker to honor famous figures from the community.

"It is a bitter pill to have to have the street decapitated at this point," he said. The community "feels that it has suffered greatly at the hands of the medical college," Millender said, although it is supportive of the school.

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floridasun
381
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floridasun 12/13/10 - 06:01 pm
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Gee the only part of Laney

Gee the only part of Laney Walker to close would be the section from 15th Street to RA Dent Blvd. There were never any historical African American neighborhoods along this stretch to warrant a historical marker.
Dr Azziz is correct...close the noted section of Laney Walker Blvd and unify the MCG campus.
Augustans allows seem to be stuck in the status quo. There would be plenty of space along Laney Walker Blvd east of R A Dent to place historical markers

PalPat
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PalPat 12/13/10 - 06:10 pm
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Changing the name and

Changing the name and closing the street is totally S T U P I D ! From my own experience you should put this money where it needs to be .. On the teaching / learning end of this hospital. You have people there filling out patient forms wrong .. listing medications on peoples meds charts that they have never been prescribed, you have nurses with attutudes that don't give the drs messages. You have doctors that don't follow up much less even look at the patient when they see them in person. If I had to vote on any of this , I would vote NO! Your receptionist in the clinics are more on the ball than the majority of your so called doctors. A doctor is only as good as the help they have , so stop wasting money on trying to change an image, and change the way patients are treated there. If the students can't look both ways before crossing the streets there , hire a school crossing guard.You have an animated answering system that says you strive to get back to the patient within 24 hours .. yet I have waited until my next appointment to get the info I needed, which was 2 months away. I consider this a total lack of respect for your patients. When a doctor asks , "may I call you with your test results ? " I expect that dr to call , not some teenager who can't answer my questions, and refers me to this animated answering system. Lucky for me I found a caring doctor else where , not part of MCG, before my feet got to the point of amputation.

Batman
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Batman 12/13/10 - 06:16 pm
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I know there are some really

I know there are some really smart people at MCG but making the argument that a road divides their campus is silly to me. Most of the universities I have visited have many roads which divide their campus. In fact, the larger the university the more 'divided' their facilities are due to roadways.

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 12/13/10 - 07:11 pm
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"a more attractive and

"a more attractive and unified campus" "Our campus does not look like a University campus" "We want a campus that looks good. We want a campus that has green space" Um, so this is the want list.
"We need to ensure that this university remains here" so is this the threat?
Univ. of SC and Univ. of GA are scattered all around Columbia and Athens respectively, so what's the problem?

Boo-Hoo
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Boo-Hoo 12/13/10 - 08:41 pm
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What a waste of money; not to

What a waste of money; not to mention the inconvenience caused by cutting a major traffic artery. This over paid individual comes to town with an oversized ego, is given a multi million Dollar house to live in, and starts up-grading and changing everything at MCG at a time when the system is already bankrupt. This is typical of the single minded, self centered types found at MCG, for the most part. We need to sell the big house on the Hill and find lower paid replacements for most of the overpaid MCG management.

fdn315
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fdn315 12/13/10 - 08:51 pm
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There isn't anything historic

There isn't anything historic about Laney Walker blvd past dent st. the inconvenience would cause for numerous other changes like access to wrightsboro road from 15th st. widening wrightsboro rd from druid park all the way to 12th st. widening druid park from walton way to wrightsboro rd. and widening 12th st at the laney walker intersection to ease the bottle nosed traffic created by the parents of students at the magnet schools and workers coming to and from the medical district that would normally pass through mcg.

I will be in attendance on tuesday to voice my concerns, but I know city officials believe what's good for MCG is good for Augusta and will be pressured by MCGs expansion to Athens that many feel as a precursor to the university moving out the city all together in the future. which I think is a crazy assumption

REDRIDER
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REDRIDER 12/13/10 - 09:56 pm
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Closing Laney Walker? How is

Closing Laney Walker? How is supplies to be delivered to the warehouse for the hospital? Fuel to be delivered for generators by large trucks. Oxygen tanks to be filled by large trucks. Parking will be reduced a very big problem. I think you have to have easement to the buildings for fire trucks to respond in case of a fire. I agree there is a big problem with people not obeying traffic signal and crosswalks. The green-space is more upkeep. Landscape, lighting ,walkway upkeep making additional cost. Also underground utilities that could fail at any time that would dig up the whole green-space. Come on people this is progress with a lot of waste.
Another bridge to no ware.

double_standard
166
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double_standard 12/13/10 - 10:09 pm
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I wonder why the students at

I wonder why the students at Paine don't complain about closing Druid Park or better yet close Central Ave, Monte Sano, and Wrightsboro Rd for ASU.

acd145
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acd145 12/13/10 - 10:26 pm
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The community feels it has

The community feels it has suffered greatly at the hands of the medical college? The area would be a complete disaster without the medical college - it's a bulwark against blight. The medical college is responsible for saving the lives of thousands of people in that neighborhood.
When I interviewed for medical schools over a decade ago, I chose not to come to MCG in large part because of the physical campus - these things are important to students. Aziz is absolutely correct that MCG has trouble competing for top students and this will become a bigger problem with an Athens campus as students wanting to pay state tuition have another option.

catfish20
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catfish20 12/14/10 - 06:44 am
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I absolutely love the idea

I absolutely love the idea and totally support it.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 12/14/10 - 08:02 am
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It never occurred to me, but

It never occurred to me, but all those roads that criss-cross the campus at UGA ruin the school. RUIN IT !

GuesS_wHU
3
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GuesS_wHU 12/14/10 - 10:03 am
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LOL @ AR. nice one.

LOL @ AR. nice one.

Improving campus is one thing. Improving campus immediately after spending 1.8million dollars on changing the college name is another. Does the school suddenly have no budget?

If he wants to improve how the campus looks, how about stopping the chain smoking that occurs up and down Harper street?

If he wants to unify some areas, start with the enclosed crosswalk that is already in place across Laney Walker. How about replacing the elevators in the CJ building so it's not an inconvenience to use the crosswalk.

How about placing the green belt between the new dental school and Goss Ln or closing Goss Ln altogether. Much less traffic on Goss then Laney-Walker.

townes22
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townes22 12/14/10 - 10:07 am
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I agree. The physical campus

I agree. The physical campus is a bit of a mess. Not very attractive at all. UGA is trying to do the same same thing with South campus. More green spaces and more pedestrian friendly. It makes a huge difference.

whyregister
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whyregister 12/14/10 - 04:48 pm
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When this topic came up

When this topic came up months ago, wasn't the reasoning behind this to provide a safer environment for the MCG pedestrian traffic? Now their reasoning is they want a pretty campus? A least expensive alternative to create a safer environment would be to construct several raised crosswalks. Closing down Laney Walker and reconfiguring the MCG campus would cost millions. I don't know about anyone else, but I would rather see our tax dollars go elsewhere.

comet2u
28
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comet2u 12/14/10 - 06:55 pm
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Harper Street also divides

Harper Street also divides the campus, but I guess "beautification" or "safety" need not apply here.

comet2u
28
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comet2u 12/14/10 - 07:32 pm
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Speaking of which, ever try

Speaking of which, ever try to cross Walton Way to get to the "other" parts of campus?

Southern Sailor
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Southern Sailor 12/14/10 - 08:12 pm
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Yep, comet2u. Word on the

Yep, comet2u. Word on the street is that Dr. Azziz's next plans include asking for Walton Way to be closed to plant an orchard between the Laney and Sears campuses.

followthemoney
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followthemoney 12/14/10 - 10:57 pm
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Mr. Azziz, you my friend are

Mr. Azziz, you my friend are fixin' to get you a dose of black rage like you've never seen before. You have no idea the wrath that will be bestowed upon you. Good luck!!!!

MD2013
101
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MD2013 12/15/10 - 05:07 pm
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The students at MCG support

The students at MCG support the notion to close down this section of Laney-Walker. Until you guys spend a few weeks in our shoes, you're never going to get an understanding of why we want this section closed. Quite simply, this stretch of road is a enormous safety concern for all of us on campus. There have been numerous accidents on this stretch, and far to many near-accidents each day. Almost every vehicle that cruises down that road is excessively speeding, which puts all of the pedestrians at even more risk.
MCG has one road cutting through it's campus, why not close it down and unite both the academic and the clinical side? If you looked at numbers, I would be to say that >2,000 people/day cross Laney-Walker in this area that he is talking about.

Close the road that divides our campus. Protect the students from getting injured/killed by speeding vehicles, and give us a place to spend time outside of the classrooms. We have the worst looking campus that I've personally ever seen, with the least amount of outdoor study areas as well.

Give us a safe campus!

Discussionstarter
501
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Discussionstarter 12/23/10 - 11:46 am
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Dr. Azziz. You are moving

Dr. Azziz. You are moving too quickly. First... focus on building relationships externally and internally. Second... focus on the morale of the employees. Third.... please do not use the old business saying: 'get off the bus' if you are not with me on this change. Fourth: exorbitant salaries are not healthy for the long term; get them under control. You are trying to turn the ship too quickly. Work on the relationships and influence; please do not bully your directives down our throat.

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