The Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative will hold a final meeting this week to close down the program for good.
“We’re going through one last meeting to finalize everything,” Chairman Bob Kuhar said. “There was a first effort; there was a second effort. That’s enough.”
Administered for five years by Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority, the program enjoyed varying popularity among downtown residents, visitors and property owners, who paid added property taxes to fund CADI services.
In December, when the Augusta Commission voted against renewing the special tax district, members cited complaints from taxpayers that the extra cleaning and safety services weren’t worth the extra tax, despite efforts to improve the program.
Kuhar, the vice president of properties and facilities for Morris Communications Co., said downtown seems dirtier and less safe without CADI.
“Personally, I think so, but I think it’s got to hit bottom before we ever do anything down there,” he said.
Cristi Hubbard, the senior operations manager for New Moon Cafe on Broad Street, said sidewalk litter, panhandling and other issues aren’t hurting business.
New Moon’s closed storefront served as the backdrop for an April 27 late-night brawl put on YouTube, but Hubbard said the brawl and other incidents seem to have increased police presence downtown, and a deputy is always available when, for instance, a panhandler gets out of hand.
“We just call dispatch and let them know,” she said.
Before the CADI meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, to be held at 931 Broad St., Sheriff Richard Roundtree is scheduled Monday to tell the Augusta Commission’s public safety committee about a new downtown safety plan.
The commission’s public services committee will learn more Monday about the scope, cost and timeline for the Augusta Recreation Department’s plan to renovate landscaping, lighting and other features at Riverwalk Augusta.
Commissioner Bill Fennoy, whose District 1 includes downtown, said he hadn’t heard complaints about litter since the CADI program was withdrawn, but he has heard concerns about crime, particularly after the May 3 beating of an Edgefield couple on the riverwalk.
“Whatever the sheriff decides to do to support safety downtown, I’m in favor of,” Fennoy said. “Just off the top of my head, high visibility is needed initially, then you maintain a presence.”