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Augusta Ports Authority reboots, plans role in Savannah River activities

Thursday, July 18, 2013 6:07 PM
Last updated Friday, July 19, 2013 12:28 AM
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In a meeting room overlooking the swollen Savannah River, a reinvigorated Augusta Ports Au­thority is proposing creating a management document to bring all the city’s uses of the river under one plan.

Authority member Frank Carl, who claimed the idea as his own, said that after several relatively inactive years the board has decided not to
dissolve and to refocus its efforts on the needs of Augusta’s publicly-owned stretch of river frontage.

“As much as activity has picked up along the river, I can see events colliding,” said Carl, a former Savannah Riverkeeper director. “The momentum is there.”

The plan, which is still in its infancy and lacks funding, would accommodate the area’s recreational uses – such as the River­­keeper’s plans for an education center and kayak facilities, the annual ESi Ironman 70.3 triathlon and two events, Paddlefest and the Augusta Southern Nationals, canceled or postponed recently because of rising river levels. The plan would also deal with the area’s industrial and public utility uses, Carl said.

The authority is still grappling with organizational issues and spent much of its meeting Thursday reviewing inconsistencies found in its contracts with marina operator Mobile Marine.

The marina also was befuddled by a city and Army Corps of Engineers decision to padlock the marina without consulting Mobile Marine when water levels were rising, according to member Mike Barnes.

Safety is the most pressing concern because the river is expected to remain at flood levels for at least three more weeks, Ri­ver­keeper Director Tonya Bonita­tibus said.

On Wednesday, a family with two children tried to navigate the river in an inflated raft, she said. They escaped safely, but Bonitatibus warned boaters about entering the river
once waters recede, as familiar features might have washed away.

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OtherSideOfTheMoon 07/18/13 - 08:43 pm
Let me get this straight.

Let me get this straight. The city of Augusta and the US Army Corps of Engineers padlocked the Augusta Marina WITHOUT consulting the operator of the Marina due to rising waters?

gargoyle 07/18/13 - 09:16 pm
Privet entities can

Privet entities can accomplish what these officials envision much better, but that would take them to get out of the way so I don't see it happening. In Columbia County you can rent Kayaks and bicycles in a public park from a privet vender giving the public the choice of supporting or ignoring the recreational opportunities the area offers. I also believe they need to concentrate on navigation and leave recreation to the Parks Dept. This looks a lot like a end run to get the Riverkeeper club house fixed up with public funds.

gargoyle 07/18/13 - 09:24 pm
That the fact that Mobile

That the fact that Mobile Marine didn't padlock the marina due to rising water before the Corps did should be more of a concern .

DarkEMT12 07/18/13 - 09:51 pm
Why ain't the

Why ain't the CSRA USCG Auxiliary stepping up and taking charge in this matter. I saw the interview from the CG Auxiliary on Monday and haven't seen the back on there with any updates. To be honest, I'm tired of seeing the Riverkeepers always on the TV doing the Interviews. The riverkeepers are always asking for donations with nothing to show for it besides riding on the river after everyone was told by the USCG Auxiliary to stay off due to hazards on the river. The riverkeepers are not a governing body but only a privatized club like a redneck boating club. I think the Auxiliary was right by saying that everyone needs to be off the river. Its too dangerous. Its time for the Auxiliary to start stepping up though concerning this flooding issue and start taking some of the responsibility with river updates.

Dixieman 07/18/13 - 10:08 pm
Wake up, folks!

Riverkeeper is a radical left-wing environmental litigation factory (follow the money and see where it goes -- lots of their funds go to job-killing lawsuits). They need to be investigated and exposed. They should NOT get taxpayer money or sweetheart below-market rentals (which amounts to the same thing), The AC never investigates them, just quotes them or reprints their press releases. This is a classic watermelon outfit -- environmental green on the outside, but socialist red on the inside.

Blasphemy 07/18/13 - 10:45 pm
If no one is in charge of the situation,

that old man river he just keeps rolling along.

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