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Augusta officials explain relocation plan for Hyde Park residents

Move could take 5 years

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 9:08 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 7:06 AM
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Relocating about 110 families from the Hyde Park neighborhood will take up to five years, but it will happen, Augusta Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler said Wednesday.

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Residents of Hyde Park listen as Chester Wheeler, the director of Augusta Housing and Community Development department, talks about the relocation process during a meeting Wednesday evening.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Residents of Hyde Park listen as Chester Wheeler, the director of Augusta Housing and Community Development department, talks about the relocation process during a meeting Wednesday evening.
Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

Speaking to a capacity crowd of middle- and senior citizen-age Hyde Park homeowners, property owners and renters at the auditorium of Clara Jenkins school, Wheeler detailed the plan for relocating residents, which will follow federal relocation guidelines.

Voting in October to spend $2.3 million on land acquisition and the initial design phases of a massive drainage project to occupy the Hyde Park site, the Augusta Commission “chose to adopt the federal Uniform Relocation Act guidelines,” Wheeler said. “They didn’t have to.”

Although the project isn’t federally funded, the stricter federal guidelines mean residents will receive relocation expenses and assistance to move into homes or apartments of equal size and value.

The city will help Hyde Park homeowners into new homes of their choosing, including those under construction in the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods. Their choices must be approved by the city in order to receive compensation.

Homeowners whose mortgages are paid off will receive lump-sum payments equal to the value of their houses, determined by an independent appraiser, Wheeler said.

Residents had many questions, including how the assistance could help church-owned properties, unpaid tax bills and whether senior residents could relocate to public senior citizen housing.

“There are so many families and so many varying elements with each family,” Wheeler said, promising a city staffer will meet individually with each family to guide them through the process. Family interviews begin March 5, he said. The moves will take place in phases, with the first phase involving residents living north of Goldenrod Street. The city will set up a relocation office at 2024 Goldenrod St., Wheeler said, estimating the city will move about 25 families a year.

The meeting was attended by City Administrator Fred Russell and Commissioner Corey Johnson, who made relocating Hyde Park residents a campaign promise. The area, just off Gordon Highway, was long rumored to be contaminated by a nearby Superfund site. But despite dropping property values, the claims haven’t risen to the level to force an evacuation.

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JRC2024
11611
Points
JRC2024 02/08/12 - 09:39 pm
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I wonder if the people who

I wonder if the people who have paid off homes, get a lump sum payment and then try to move into government assisted housing will have to give back that lump sum. They should be made to purchase homes and use that money-not bank it. IMHO

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/09/12 - 07:09 am
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if you're sitting on that

if you're sitting on that much cash, your assets should preclude you from that type of welfare. But at the same time, it's not exactly easy to say " here is what you're house is worth" and then expect that amount of money to buy the same amount of house they had. It's going to require individual case by case resolution and i would expect the city to do right by these folks. Regardless of what numbers the appraiser produces.

Little Lamb
50749
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Little Lamb 02/09/12 - 08:15 am
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Now that we've got income

Now that we've got income redistribution firmly established at the federal level, the city is getting into the act big time. This is a political payoff to help Corey Johnson in his re-election bid.

Little Lamb
50749
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Little Lamb 02/09/12 - 08:35 am
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This news story is well done

This news story is well done for the most part. But the last sentence falls flat. Here is how I would have ended the story:

Property values have dropped because of the rumors, but extensive soil and groundwater testing has revealed no concentrations of contaminants that would necessitate evacuation or relocation.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/09/12 - 08:39 am
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I paused at it too LL. Maybe

I paused at it too LL. Maybe b/c i've never heard the phrase, Superfund site.

contamination = ignoratio elenchi

I have no business applying latin to make a point though.

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