Golf, buses, stadium on Augusta Commission agenda

Issues that matter to Augusta residents -- public golf, public transit and a partially public stadium -- go before the Augusta Commission today for a vote.

The commission will weigh in on the direction that operations at Augusta Municipal Golf Course will take after learning of several options from Recreation, Parks and Facilities Director Tom Beck last week.

Beck, part of a subcommittee that recommended turning the course over to Affiniti Partners, the management firm that operates Forest Hills Golf Course, also presented the options that the course remain publicly run, in which it currently operates at a loss, or turned over to The Patch in Augusta LLC, the only qualified bidder to respond to a request for proposals the city issued last year.

Also today, City Administrator Fred Russell is expected to present a final contract with Mobility Transit, the firm the commission previously selected to take over operations at Augusta Public Transit. Mobility Transit has said it can effect a "startup" at the bus service in 45 days, but contract details are still being worked out. They will affect the future of about 70 city bus drivers and other workers, who will become Mobility Transit employees.

Commissioner Matt Aitken has a proposal on today's agenda authorizing Russell to "explore options" related to funding a multipurpose stadium, shopping and condominium complex desired by Cal Ripken to become the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets, which he owns.

The former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame property on the Savannah River levee at 15th Street had been eyed last year for the $38.7 million complex by developers, who also sought some sort of public financing or assistance in building it. The riverfront property, meanwhile, remains tied up as state officials say they're completing due diligence before auctioning it off.

Commissioners also will hear details on population shifts that likely will affect their re-election campaigns when district lines are redrawn based on the 2010 census. In 2000, a committee consisting of four school board members, four commissioners and four Augusta legislators undertook the process of redrawing the lines.

The prevalence of real-world issues marks a change for the commission, which has been arguing for months over details found in the city's new personnel manual, and how to go about removing a charter reference specifying the body must meet "at the courthouse." A new fix, proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles to simply rename the municipal building a courthouse "annex" also is expected to win approval today.

If You Go

Augusta Commission meeting

5 p.m., Lee Beard Commission Chamber

Eighth Floor, Augusta Municipal Building

530 Greene St.

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