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Hyde Park residents skeptical about relocation plan

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Repeatedly burned when promises to relocate fell through, residents of Hyde Park neighborhood are skeptical about a new plan up for Augusta Commission approval today.

Leona Drive homeowner Frankie Taylor (left) and resident Sampson Kelly say they've been burned before by promises about moving residents out of the south Augusta neighborhood.  Susan McCord/Staff
Susan McCord/Staff
Leona Drive homeowner Frankie Taylor (left) and resident Sampson Kelly say they've been burned before by promises about moving residents out of the south Augusta neighborhood.

“Burned children are scared of fire,” said Sampson Kelly, who lives in one of the area’s nicer homes, a tidy Leona Street brick ranch with bars on the windows.

Kelly and resident Frankie Taylor doubted plans to create a regional detention pond at the site. A proposal to pay for moving the residents is on today’s meeting agenda, according to Engineering Director Abie Ladson.

“They’ve been saying that for years,” Kelly said. “Show me.”

Resident Carrie Logan said her landlord hadn’t mentioned contamination or flooding three years ago when she leased the house where she and four grandchildren live. She said that uprooting her family would be difficult but that she’d do it if they were at risk.

Whether a nearby junkyard, the subject of a $10 million federal Superfund cleanup, also contaminated the neighborhood hasn’t been settled. City officials bypassed the environmental determination when proposing instead to build the detention pond.

The dry pond will drain the entire area, from flood-prone Wilkinson Gardens along Olive and Old Savannah roads and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Doug Barnard Parkway, Ladson said.

“We’ve had a lot of complaints; I’ve seen the flooding,” he said.

Because the city has paved Old Savannah Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a $2.3 million sales tax allocation can be used to begin moving the residents, he said.

Another sales-tax allocation specifically for Hyde Park brings the total to about $4.3 million, most of which will go to buying land and relocating, Ladson said.

Florida Road resident Nora Roberts, who has lived in her Hyde Park home since 1971, said she thinks the city is going to rip off residents by paying them pennies on the dollar for their homes.

“The city’s doing a highway robbery without a pistol,” Roberts said.

District 2 Commissioner Corey Johnson told her the city would “make her whole” when she is asked to move, Roberts said. Johnson, who made help for Hyde Park residents a campaign promise twice, did not return a call requesting comment.

According to city officials, Augusta’s Housing and Community Development Department will be involved with the relocations, potentially moving residents to new houses in the Laney-Walker neighborhood.

“If I’ve got to buy these people houses, or give them money to move, then it makes sense that I can pay myself,” City Administrator Fred Russell said of plans for residents to move to Laney-Walker.

The pond will “serve the drainage needs in that area,” Russell said, calling residents’ skepticism “a sign of the times.”

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seenitB4
79393
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seenitB4 10/18/11 - 08:25 am
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A sign of the times....yes

A sign of the times....yes indeed.

Little Lamb
43408
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Little Lamb 10/18/11 - 08:44 am
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What kind of bone-headed,

What kind of bone-headed, nonsensical statement is this from our City Administrator?

“If I’ve got to buy these people houses, or give them money to move, then it makes sense that I can pay myself,” City Administrator Fred Russell said of plans for residents to move to Laney-Walker.

Absolutely meaningless, and meant to deflect opposition.
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If you look in the city's property tax records, you can see that the tax assessor has valued most of the homes at $4,000 to $12,000 and has valued most of the vacant lots at less than $2,000. If the city purchases the parcels, shouldn't they purchase them at the tax assessor's valuation? Do you think the city will instead be pressured to purchase them at inflated values, like the Augusta National did for those homes near Berckmanns Rd.?

david jennings
547
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david jennings 10/18/11 - 08:53 am
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I never understood what

I never understood what liability if any the owners of the old Goldberg scrapyard shared in the huge enviormental clean up that was required after all thier years of operation in that location.

david jennings
547
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david jennings 10/18/11 - 08:56 am
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Or Piedmont Wood Preserving?

Or Piedmont Wood Preserving?

Little Lamb
43408
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Little Lamb 10/18/11 - 09:16 am
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Goldberg Brothers scrapyard

Goldberg Brothers scrapyard and Southern Wood Piedmont creosote plant are ancient history. The action at hand is to stop our commission from approving this bailout of property owners and renters in Hyde Park. There is no valid reason for the city to buy that property. Taxpayers are being conned and taken to the cleaners again.

allhans
22970
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allhans 10/18/11 - 09:23 am
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Lots and lots of foreclosed

Lots and lots of foreclosed home off Tobacco Road and Morgan Road. Nice brick houses that might be affordable.
I wouldn't live in the Hyde Park area so I feel sorry for those who have homes there.

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