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Commission delays action on Patch, bus contractor

Transit system proposal also sees no action

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Augusta Commission members delayed action Monday on plans to renovate Augusta Municipal Golf Course and hire a new management firm to operate Augusta Public Transit.

With little time to review the golf plan – a proposal to renovate the course and merge it with the adjacent First Tee of Augusta – the public services committee voted 3-0 to schedule a work session next week to discuss it further.

The proposal, under development by city officials and Paul Simon, the chairman emeritus of First Tee of Au­gus­ta, calls for $1.9 million in renovations at the course, including $225,000 for grading, $301,000 for greens construction, $100,000 for bunkers and $285,000 for new cart paths.

If the proposal goes through, First Tee personnel would take over management of the city course, known as “The Patch.”

The city has operated the course since last fall, when private operator The Patch in Augusta LLC was discovered to have abandoned its lease months before and left several employees unpaid.

Another plan that found favor last week at a work session gained little ground Monday, with commissioners on the public services committee briefly discussing the hire of McDonald Transit to take over management of Augusta Public Transit before adjourning because a quorum was lost.

Commissioner Marion Williams, already upset that last week’s work session was scheduled after several commissioners said they’d be away on vacation, demanded to know why the McDonald bid award was before the commission only three weeks before the contract with current operator Mobility Transit is set to expire, with little backup plan in place.

“I’m really disappointed as to us giving out instructions,” Williams said. “This bus issue has been going on too long. We’re always pushed against the wall at the last minute.”

Commissioner Bill Lockett added, “it seems that every time a potential contract comes before this body, it’s always a rush.”

He then asked several questions about the proposal: “How much transit experience did the committee have? Was a cost-benefit analysis conducted, and if so, what it was it like? If this vendor is selected, will there be additional routes, or will we have the status quo? There are so many questions that need to be answered.”

City Administrator Fred Russell said the commission had agreed to the current schedule when it gave Mobil­ity an extension to July 31.

Comments (23) Add comment
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Little Lamb
45398
Points
Little Lamb 07/08/13 - 11:13 pm
2
1
It is easy to ask a question . . .

Commissioner Bill Lockett needs to stop asking questions and to start providing answers.

Little Lamb
45398
Points
Little Lamb 07/08/13 - 11:15 pm
5
1
Simon Legree

The deal that Paul Simon brings before the commission is very much like the TEE Center deal. Augusta taxpayers pay $2 million to upgrade the golf course, then Simon's group will "manage" the newly upgraded course. Naturally, all losses will be borne by taxpayers, while any future profits will be split.

What kind of a deal is that?

itsanotherday1
42296
Points
itsanotherday1 07/09/13 - 02:22 am
2
0
Decisions are pushed to the

Decisions are pushed to the last minute because of nitwits nitpicking and talking everything to death.

corgimom
31535
Points
corgimom 07/09/13 - 03:12 am
5
2
A county that is having a

A county that is having a fiscal crisis should spend $2 million on a golf course, in an area that has many, many, many golf courses?

What's WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE???

Riverman1
82451
Points
Riverman1 07/09/13 - 04:01 am
3
1
$2 Million is a Lot

$2 million is a lot. I don't blame Marion Williams for going off on Fred Russell like he did. The TV news had the confrontation.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 07/09/13 - 07:31 am
2
1
Questions....

Why offer a solution when you only want to blame others for attempting to save taxpayers money. I am told Lockett criticized his fellow commissioners as something like "supposed to be smart business people" and privatization always fails..........

Easy to say when he's never signed the front of a paycheck.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 07/09/13 - 07:54 am
0
1
Ben Dover has many friends who are attracted to ARC candy.
Unpublished

Ben Dover has many friends who are attracted to ARC candy.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 07/09/13 - 07:56 am
0
1
Pathetic, unashamed thieves in public office. The real problem.
Unpublished

Pathetic, unashamed thieves in public office. The real problem.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 07/09/13 - 07:57 am
0
1
ARC should add to the county signs. Thieves Welcome in ARC.
Unpublished

ARC should add to the county signs. Thieves Welcome in ARC.

GnipGnop
11935
Points
GnipGnop 07/09/13 - 08:05 am
4
0
Questions....

Commissioner Bill Lockett added, “it seems that every time a potential contract comes before this body, it’s always a rush.”

He then asked several questions about the proposal: “How much transit experience did the committee have? Was a cost-benefit analysis conducted, and if so, what it was it like? If this vendor is selected, will there be additional routes, or will we have the status quo? There are so many questions that need to be answered...I am surprised these few weren't asked...do they have good Braves seats....how are their suites at the Georgia Dome....can I have free bus passes for anyone I know to ride to the Patch so that they can play a free round of golf...you know important questions that people need to know....

nocnoc
41486
Points
nocnoc 07/09/13 - 08:21 am
3
1
Sell it or use it to expand Daniel Field

With $2 million NOT being spent every year think of the things that could get done?

Also when are we going to change the signs as you enter ARC borders to read:

Welcome to
Augusta Richmond County
Operated by: Paul Simon Enterprises

?????????????????????

dichotomy
32190
Points
dichotomy 07/09/13 - 08:29 am
3
0
I simply cannot believe the

I simply cannot believe the commissions would even consider getting involved with the deal being proposed by Paul Simon for the Patch. It is essentially an UNLIMITED LOSS LIABILITY deal for the taxpayers with a HUGE up front cost. In case nobody has noticed, Paul Simon has a terrible record with non-profit and his approach is to ALWAYS USE AND LOSE THE TAXPAYER'S MONEY. Remember the Golf and Gardens.....Fort Discovery????? All gone after wasting tons of taxpayer dollars.

COMMISSIONERS...........ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MINDS????????????? Or did the Puppet Master start pulling your strings and now all of you who have sold your souls in the past are having to dance to his tune???? STOP THIS DEAL DEAD IN IT'S TRACKS and go back to the one where someone was ACTUALLY GOING TO PAY US TO LEASE THE PATCH.

As for the bus contract............just further proof that Commission, the Administrator, and the Procurement Office are ALL totally incompetent when it comes to soliciting, evaluating, and selecting contractors for municipal services. Unfortunately, it seems that no matter how stupid and/or crooked our commissioners prove themselves to be, Richmond County voters always prove themselves to be even more stupid.

deestafford
26627
Points
deestafford 07/09/13 - 08:30 am
2
0
I don't understand why they didn't have time to discuss the

Patch. Don't they have lights in the room where the meetings are held?

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 07/09/13 - 08:45 am
2
2
Questions not answers

Why have answers when all you want to do is criticize others who try and save taxpayers $$$$.

What do you expect from someone who never signed the front of a paycheck!!!!!

GnipGnop
11935
Points
GnipGnop 07/09/13 - 08:52 am
4
0
Have yet to see anyone in ARC commission save taxpayers $

Unbid trash tax? The Patch? Bus service? Tee center? Parking deck? How many lawsuits settled out of court for non winnable cases? Xmart? Anytime an incompetent person is fired from ARC? Any questions?

justthefacts
21414
Points
justthefacts 07/09/13 - 08:56 am
4
0
Forest Hills vs Patch

Forest Hills was almost as bad before a quality Management company took over. Now, look at it. A very nice place to play for a reasonable rate and I would assume profitable. Grady Smith proposed the same deal for the Patch and was rebuffed. When was that, a year ago? And still, no one has come up with a better idea as yet.

tom31510
312
Points
tom31510 07/09/13 - 08:59 am
3
1
Commissioner's meetings

Why is it that there are all too often not enough commissioners in attendance to vote of something but always enough to call for a study or for a retreat to do what should/could be done in the regularly scheduled meetings? Contracts with the city are a lose/lose situation. No reputable company is going to sign a contract knowing how quickly contracts in the past have been snatched away long before their expiration date.
And close the Riverwalk at midnight. Yea, like the thugs are going to obey that. A new gang initiation will be shooting out the cameras. Why not build a wall/fence around the JB Arena & let anyone in to do as they please with all 911 calls blocked. Soon there'd be less of them to bother the rest of the city. The loading docks would prolly accommodate all the hearses needed.

Cameron Poe
865
Points
Cameron Poe 07/09/13 - 09:04 am
3
1
This is ridiculous. The

This is ridiculous. The paper should quit reporting on stories when nothing happens at these commission meetings. They should just post a giant headline that says "Another Day, Another of One Your Dollars". Nothing ever happens ever. This is to the point of ineptitude that maybe we need to start threatening some recalls. Too many times commissioners are not in attendance, someone is unprepared, or someone is stonewalling for some silly personal agenda. Enough is enough. If these folks are not going to solve problems instead of creating them then its time to walk. They've all gotten away with too much for too long. The commission is a joke and they are inept. Time for a change.

Dixieman
14487
Points
Dixieman 07/09/13 - 09:39 am
4
1
Are you kidding me?

A Commission meeting at which nothing was accomplished? What's next -- the discovery of gravity? The invention of steam power?
Political dwarfs who could not organize a two-car funeral -- they would be too busy arguing about whether the black car or the white car went first!
I am going to start a political party that will replace the mayor and the entire commission with a king.

Little Lamb
45398
Points
Little Lamb 07/09/13 - 10:36 am
3
0
Instructions

From Susan McCord’s story:

“I’m really disappointed as to us giving out instructions,” Williams said.

You’re just going to have to remain disappointed, Commissioner Williams. Fred (What, me worry?) Russell has a long track record of ignoring commissioner instructions and commissioner requests for information.

Why do they continue to put up with that insubordination?

harley_52
23011
Points
harley_52 07/09/13 - 10:36 am
2
0
Turn The Patch Into A Farm...

...use trustee prisoners, able bodied welfare recipients, and people sentenced to "Community Service" to work it. Use the produce to feed inmates and welfare recipients. Sell any leftover produce to the public and use the profits for jailhouse maintenance.

Sweet son
10117
Points
Sweet son 07/09/13 - 11:01 am
2
0
Comments about the "no action commission" are right on

target. Mismanaged commission meetings and mismanagement in the administrator's office are the norm for our government. Since contracts seem to be the most often discussed you can add the procurement dept to the list of things being mismanaged..

We elect these guys and pay them money to conduct the county's business I would suggest we are not getting anything for our money.

Marion Williams is often annoying but I love it that he is making a lot of noise. Locket usually makes his noise along racial lines but Marion's ideas and comments usually make sense.

I really like the idea of using the goats to clean up overgrown property. It works well in other communities so why not here?

Little Lamb
45398
Points
Little Lamb 07/09/13 - 11:51 am
2
1
Devil in the details

From Susan McCord’s story:

With little time to review the golf plan . . . the public services committee voted 3-0 to schedule a work session next week to discuss it further. . . . If the proposal goes through, First Tee personnel would take over management of the city course, known as “The Patch.”

Yes, they will “take over” management. Not listed in this story is what Paul Simon proposes for the management fee. That will be an ongoing expense subject to inflationary multipliers. Simon will want the city to sign on for an extended period of time, also not mentioned in the story.

I wonder whether the date and time of next week's work session will be made public?

Pops
7844
Points
Pops 07/09/13 - 07:01 pm
1
0
They have not had time

to figure out what kind of perks they are going to realize......too much information coming at them too fast......

corgimom
31535
Points
corgimom 07/09/13 - 10:25 pm
0
0
Joe Bowles is bent out of

Joe Bowles is bent out of shape because people are criticizing that trainwreck of a transit contract- that he enthusiastically pushed. They have every right to criticize it, I have no idea why the commission picked Mobility. Mobility is another one that couldn't run a company if their lives depended on it. They sold the county a bill of goods, and the Commission fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. And patted themselves on the back while they were doing it, too.

gargoyle
16352
Points
gargoyle 07/09/13 - 10:43 pm
0
0
Why do our elected put up

Why do our elected put up with Mr. Russell's insubordination/incompetence? Could his actions hide and deflect their own shortcomings ? Or could it be more insidious , with a weak Mayor and a City Council that resembles a ill trained clown circus he can do whatever he pleases without fear or answering his actions to the electorate . One thing is sure , the state of affairs Downtown give him ample opportunity to consolidate power to his position.

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