Parking deck management deal could occur Monday

Agreement on deck could come Monday

 

A management deal for Augusta’s new convention center parking deck might come as soon as Monday, with most parties appearing to reach consensus on the details.

Revised documents presented to the Augusta Commission in a special meeting Tuesday included a 70-30 split of deck profits between the city and Augusta Riverfront LLC, the firm that will manage the deck and the adjoining convention center.

Paul Simon, the president of Augusta Riverfront, said he approved the changes and hoped they would win passage at a meeting he expects Mayor Deke Copenhaver to call Monday.

Other changes include the addition of a second-floor crosswalk connecting the deck to the convention center at Ninth Street, something that Simon said would be helpful for visitors crossing busy Reynolds Street.

The five-year contract has Augusta paying Augusta Riverfront $25,000 annually plus expenses to manage the parking deck. Previous drafts have raised questions among commissioners and members of a local watchdog group who fear that the agreements benefit the firm more than the city. Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles proposed the 70-30 split and crosswalk Monday as a compromise.

Augusta Riverfront has ties to the management of Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

The deck developments preceded an encounter in the Lee Beard Commission Chamber between the watchdog group and Simon after the commissioners left the room to meet privately with attorneys.

Before an audience gathered for the regular meeting, which included issues of changing the name of Augusta’s merged university and taxi driver concerns, Lincolnton, Ga., activist Al Gray, former Downtown Development Authority member Brad Owens and former Commissioner Andy Cheek engaged in an open discussion about whether the deal’s details benefit Augusta, with Simon doing most of the talking.

The discussion wasn’t captured on the city’s live video stream because the commission’s regular 5 p.m. meeting hadn’t been called to order.

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