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Augusta Commission committees to meet Monday

Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 9:07 PM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 1:11 AM
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Augusta Commission members have a marathon day of work Monday that begins with a 9 a.m. work session on changes to how Hou­sing and Community De­vel­op­ment contracts are approved.

Commissioner Bill Lock­ett said he requested the session because he couldn’t understand why the department requested that all contracts for work at Augusta’s Hyde Park drainage project, the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem redevelopment initiative and its other projects require only approval by the mayor, the city administrator and the housing development director instead of the full commission.

“I hope to get clarification as to what the intent is,” Lockett said of the four-year proposal, which requires that the commission only receive an annual update.

Commissioners have a closed-door meeting with attorneys, then will field dozens of year-end agenda items during committee meetings.

A proposal by Downtown De­vel­opment Authority Di­rec­tor Margaret Woodard to renew the downtown Bus­iness Improvement District, which funds the Clean Au­gusta Downtown Initiative for five years, has attracted three speakers. Former Com­mis­sioner Andy Cheek and downtown property owners Mi­chael Walraven and Robin Schweit­zer have been critical of the district, which imposes a separate property tax within its boundaries for the clean-up program.

Finance Committee Chair­man Jerry Brigham said he had not seen the petitions signed by business district property owners. Fifty-one percent of owners, or owners of 51 percent of district properties’ assessed value, must support the district’s renewal. Brigham said if property owners want the district to continue, he will vote to renew it.

Other items on committee agendas include:

• A discussion of ways to keep parade traffic and other events from disrupting business activities downtown, requested by Lockett

• A 10-year lease-build agreement with Delta Peachtree LLC for a utility payment and tag office center at Peach Orchard Road Commons

• Approval of $290,685 in sales tax funds for Kimley-Horn and Associates to study the need for traffic circles/roundabouts and other improvements at the intersections of Wheeler and Aumond roads, Central and Monte Sano avenues, Laney-Walker Boulevard and Druid Park Avenue, Boy Scout and Skinner Mill roads and North Leg and Milledgeville roads

• A discussion of funding that would allow the Develop­ment Authority of Richmond County to pursue retail and industrial development

• A lease agreement with Virginia Beach Golf Manage­ment to operate Augusta Municipal Golf Course

• Approval of $991,561 in sales tax funds for a pedestrian bridge connecting the Augusta Convention Center to its parking deck

• Approval of a $473,858 change order for the architect designing renovations at the Municipal Building

• Discussion of naming the new sheriff’s administration building for retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength, requested by Commissioner Joe Jackson

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rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 12/10/12 - 02:41 am
5
0
OMG SMH LOL

More of the same. Talk about some lameduck soup, good golly Miss Molly!

I am, for once, 100% behind Comm. Locketts questioning this. And good for him to be watching and catching some of this automated spending. Keep up the good work.

Next, and it may be legitimate, but what is North Augusta resident Andy Cheek doing on the Agenda to discuss the BID or the CADI? Maybe he owns Ellis Street and I am unaware, but unless he is shoveling money into this initiative he needs to shut up and sit down. Oh I know he says he still owns land or property somewhere in Richmond County, I suspect Howard Avenue in the 6th district, but unless he owns it in this taxpaying district...he is just a busybody interloper.

And a 10 year lease for the tag office, unless this is a new location why are we signing a 10 year lease? Why not place these types of services where we own the properties?

And 300k to study the need for roundabouts. Now like SeenitB4, I kinda like round abouts. But to pay $300,000 to study the need? Are you kidding me, the need? Who "needs" a roundabout? And how can you tell? I will do it for $150,000. You tell me what you think the study should say, I do it in, say, 1 week. We save time, I earn money. Done deal. Gerry Sams doesn't even have to get involved.

Golf course lease agreement...Hoeboy, here we go again with that.

$991,000 for a walkway? Oh yeah, I think I read where Fred Russell had saved enough on the TEEcenter deal that this really cost us nothing. Kind of like those tax cuts that are really reductions in the expected tax increases, so look at the money we saved, right?

And a 1/2 million dollar change order. So what, 18 million went to 21 million, now a 20% change order? Good Gawd,who the heck is the engineering firm on this that has a 20% contingency. And so early in the project. Woo Hoo Jackson Massey got me paid. Holy Chillin Change Order, Batman.

Makes naming the new Sheriff's Building a Ho Humm. Sure would have liked to see this on the Gordon Hwy, you know, halfway between where the prisoners are and the courts are. In the geographical center of the county. Oh nevermind that.

Dang I am longworded tonite.

Venting, I guess. Kind of a pent up frustration, of sorts.

Beg pardons.

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 12/10/12 - 02:39 am
3
0
PS

Good work Susan McCord. More basic digging like this raises citizen awareness. I know how difficult it can be to condense, but good work young lady.

seenitB4
87499
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seenitB4 12/10/12 - 07:37 am
4
0
Good lord Rebel

OOOh how they need you downtown...:)

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 09:30 am
2
0
Change Order

If they are approving a Change Order for half a million dollars in the design (i.e., paperwork) of remodeling the marble palace, just imagine what the actual construction costs for that design change will be!

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/10/12 - 09:35 am
2
0
May Be

using only requiring approval by the figure-head mayor, Fred Russell and the housing development director, instead of the full commission is a move to cut out 5 middle men?

It is a lean economy, Kick Backs aren't what they use to be.

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 09:35 am
3
1
How Long

Question: How long has Augusta been having Christmas parades and St. Patrick’s Day parades downtown?

Answer: A long time.

Why are today's business owners so whiny? They get miffed because of two parades a year near their precious businesses. Don't they realize that some of the paradegoers might just drop into some of those business and buy a lemonade or a cup of coffee?

Okay, if the downtown business owners don't want to have parades downtown, I say it's time to put the parades on Peach Orchard Road. Those business owners will appreciate the paradegoers.

Brad Owens
4487
Points
Brad Owens 12/10/12 - 09:35 am
3
0
Andy Cheek was on the DDA..

He knows the issues and has just as much right as anyone else to speak to the commission about them.

The BID was passed while he was on the commission and so his input is relevant and given what I know about all this, needed.

I am glad Andy is involved again in downtown issues, we need MORE people questioning elected officials about taxes and spending habits, not less. NO matter where they live...

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/10/12 - 09:41 am
4
0
Approval of $991,561 & Approval of a $473,858

in sales tax funds for a pedestrian bridge connecting the Augusta Convention Center to its parking deck.

What next a special elevator in the TEE to handle the extra foot traffic?
===========

Approval of a $473,858
Would like some greater detail on this item?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/10/12 - 09:42 am
2
0
HEAR WE GO AGAIN

A lease agreement with Virginia Beach Golf Manage­ment to operate Augusta Municipal Golf Course...

Listed but without details.... why?

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 09:43 am
2
0
Roundabouts

From the story we learned about this committee agenda item:

• Approval of $290,685 in sales tax funds for Kimley-Horn and Associates to study the need for traffic circles/roundabouts and other improvements at the intersections of Wheeler and Aumond roads, Central and Monte Sano avenues, Laney-Walker Boulevard and Druid Park Avenue, Boy Scout and Skinner Mill roads and North Leg and Milledgeville roads

Come on. You can build a roundabout for $290,000. You don't need to waste the money studying them. I have no objection to a roundabout at Central Avenue and Monte Sano, but the traffic is much more congested at Central Avenue and Highland Avenue. Why not put the roundabout there if you want to improve traffic flow?

In Meg Mirshak's articles about excessive wait times at traffic lights a couple of weeks ago, we learned from traffic engineer Steve (Not my problem) Cassell that he really doesn't want to be bothered by complaints from the public. In commissioning these "studies" of roundabouts, we now see that Cassell doesn't want to be bothered by having to construct them. He can have an outside firm do a "study," issue a report, and then Cassell can put the report on a shelf to gather dust like the ten thousand other "studies" that the city commissions and pays for.

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 09:52 am
3
0
Projects

From the story:

Commissioner Bill Lock­ett said he requested the session because he couldn’t understand why the department requested that all contracts for work . . . [on] projects require only approval by the mayor, the city administrator and the housing development director instead of the full commission. “I hope to get clarification as to what the intent is,” Lockett said of the four-year proposal, which requires that the commission only receive an annual update.

Wasn't it the mayor and the city administrator who approved the parking deck contracts that had the city owning only air rights? That really went over well.

If you give the power to the mayor and the city administrator, you will see a multimillion dollar ball field downtown in no time.

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 09:59 am
3
0
Pedestrian Bridge

When Paul Simon said he would like the city to build an enclosed pedestrian walkway connecting his convention center and his parking deck, at least two commissioners (Joe Bowles and Corey Johnson) balked. They said the million-dollar cost could be used on more worthwhile uses in the city. That's when Fred (What, me worry?) Russell came up with the explanation that the walkway really would cost nothing, because the TEE Center was constructed "under budget."

Can you believe this man?

Brad Owens
4487
Points
Brad Owens 12/10/12 - 10:13 am
4
0
We have many NEEDS downtown...

If there is an "extra" million in tax funds out there, I am sure there is many things that we NEED that can be done with the money verses certain WANTS that are not needed.

Critical NEEDS before prestigious WANTS!

Brad

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 10:34 am
3
0
December

$290,685 here, $991,561 there, and $473,858 over there — pretty soon you're talking real money!

We need an ordinance prohibiting commission meetings and committee meetings in December.

By the way, tell John Boehner to adjourn Congress and send them home for Christmas immediately. They can talk calmly about the fiscal cliff stuff next year. Deadlines result in disastrous decisions.

catawba7
319
Points
catawba7 12/10/12 - 01:39 pm
3
0
Now he wants to ask questions

Lockett said: Commissioner Bill Lock­ett said he requested the session because he couldn’t understand why the department requested that all contracts for work at Augusta’s Hyde Park drainage project, the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem redevelopment initiative and its other projects require only approval by the mayor, the city administrator and the housing development director instead of the full commission.

Instead of "stealing Hyde Park" for a 33 acre drainage pond, why didn't he other commissioners and the citizens of Augusta speak up when the a member of their own commission offered to donate 5 acres on Dan Bowles Rd for a pond and not spend the tax payers money on relocation.

They could have saved Hyde Park if not for "GREED". Only some citizens will benefit, those in the click, others get royally "SCREWED". So sad, and so mean spirited.

dichotomy
33141
Points
dichotomy 12/10/12 - 01:55 pm
3
1
This ain't commission

This ain't commission committee meetings. This is a hog sloppin'. SUUUU-EEE SUUUU-EEE. Somebody get a stick and hit Paul over the head....he's hoggin' the trough.

$290,685 to study 5 roundabouts! You have GOT to be kidding me. And $473,858 for a change order!!! So what's this Municipal Building thingy up to now...about TRIPLE what we were told it was going to be? Sort of like the TEE and parking deck. More MISMANGAGEMENT brought to you by our MUNICIPAL MUNCHKINS. Not one of them could organize a company picnic and pull it off within budget. Of course, I realize staying in budget is hard with all the kickbacks, bribes, payoffs, and outright incompetence. The sad part about all of this is that I have seen smarter crooks steal more, and dumber incompetents waste more, but I ain't ever seen anything like what goes on in Owwwgusta. That Owww part is the taxpayers hollering.

Little Lamb
46096
Points
Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 02:19 pm
2
0
Study the Need

From the story:

• Approval of $290,685 in sales tax funds for Kimley-Horn and Associates to study the need for traffic circles/roundabouts. . . .

$290,685 to Kimley-Horn & Associates, and all we get is a lousy study?!?!

We're not even getting a design that construction crews can use to actually build the roundabouts? Surely Steve (Not my problem) Cassell could put some traffic counting devices out there and determine whether there's a need or not. Instead, we're about to spend big bucks on a study. Unbelievable.

Conservative Man
5576
Points
Conservative Man 12/10/12 - 04:36 pm
2
0
Look for fireworks.....

...from what I hear those questioning the BID/CADI are planning to call into question the administration of the whole program..not necessarily the program itself....sounds as if the DDA i.e.; Margaret Woodard has mismanaged the program through either ineptitude or purposeful misdeeds....again....look for fireworks to come from this meeting...

I for one thank ANYBODY, Andy Cheek included who has the stones to call these career "politicos" out and make them explain their decisions......

countyman
20153
Points
countyman 12/10/12 - 05:29 pm
3
1
I don't think the same people

I don't think the same people will ever let the downtown conspiracy theory go. The majority of commissioners live south of Gordon Hwy.

The same agenda included the new tag/utility dept building in South Augusta, signal instillation at Barton Chapel/Milledgeville, acquiring right of way for the Windsor Spring rd widening, Butler Creek Park, etc...

Rebel.. The new building in South Augusta will include the tag office, utilities department, and two drive thrus.

Little Lamb. I think you might want to know there's definitely more than two parades downtown, and some owners were complaining about certain big events too.

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 12/11/12 - 10:23 am
1
0
I don't care what Andy's experience is...
Unpublished

He lives in NA now. Stay over there in their politics or move back to Augusta if you want to get back in theirs. The fact of the matter is he was part of the problem. He sucked up to his brother from another mother and got stabbed in the back. That stupid Ellis Street Canal crap? Puhlease. Another downtown advocate that would screw south augusta taxpayers! He ran for office in NA and they were smarter than we were.

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