Augusta Commission committees to meet Monday

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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