Richmond County master plan to be unveiled today

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Augusta unveils its new master plan today, a massive, $500,000 document detailing $1.5 billion in development projects across Richmond County, known as the Augusta Sustainable Development Agenda.

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John Shields, of Shields Design, talks with community members at Paine College about the new Augusta Sustainable Development Agenda. Paine is located along the plan's proposed Augusta Way corridor.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
John Shields, of Shields Design, talks with community members at Paine College about the new Augusta Sustainable Development Agenda. Paine is located along the plan's proposed Augusta Way corridor.

Before the public had a first look at the finalized agenda, plan author John Shields shopped for buy-in Wednesday at one of the plan's epicenters, Paine College.

Paine is located along the proposed "Augusta Way," a strategic corridor connecting Augusta's downtown medical community with the proposed Rocky Creek Mixed-Use Park, a radical reconfiguration of the debilitated Regency Mall area.

"It's hard to imagine this being the grand boulevard of Augusta," Shields told area pastors, school representatives and other stakeholders gathered in the Paine president's board room.

The agenda proposes -- as its priority plan of action -- to expand Augusta's downtown core south, redeveloping neighborhoods, beautifying roads and refurbishing defunct shopping centers all the way from 15th Street to Regency Mall.

The agenda, subtitled "Realizing the Garden City," hopes to piggyback on a Georgia Department of Transportation road-widening project along the route, but do much more, Shields said.

"Fifteenth represents a really good opportunity," Shields said during a recent interview. "It's where Augusta can grow."

To become the "grand" approach for all visitors from the south, Augusta Way will feature landscaped medians, pedestrian and bike routes and multimodal transit stops, such as the agenda recommends at several of its other prototype project sites.

Farther south along Augusta Way, the agenda proposes a complete overhaul of neighborhoods from T.W. Josey High School to MLK Boulevard to Deans Bridge Road, in a project known as the Oates Creek Neighborhood Revitalization.

Tied to the reconstruction of Cherry Tree Crossing and Dogwood Terrace public housing developments, the project proposes the addition of more than 700 new low-income and market-rate housing units.

Farther south, the agenda's planned Rocky Creek Regional Mixed-Use Center is its costliest proposal, at nearly $200 million, including $56.5 million in public infrastructure and funds.

This development also piggybacks on a project already in the works, Augusta's planned flood control project along Rocky Creek.

The plan intends to transform the area, located at the near-geographic center of Augusta-Richmond County, into an "employment-focused destination" complete with a recreational water feature made from the flood control project.

Stretching from Deans Bridge Road along Gordon Highway north of Milledgeville Road and serving as the southern anchor of Augusta's urban core, the development includes the addition of more than 200,000 square feet of commercial, office and light manufacturing and more than 3,000 residential units.

The proposal doesn't touch the vacant Regency Mall, owned by New York-based Cardinal Entities.

"When the Regency Mall wants to join with that community, it can," Shields said.

Most of the agenda's 11 initiatives are located on the city's south side, with the exception of an Upper Broad Street Neighborhood Revitalization, the Sand Bar Ferry "Garden City Gateway" project and the proposed Belair Town Center.

The upper Broad project proposes to create an attractive "Garden City Boulevard" approach to downtown through rezoning and landscaping, and to restore and expand Olmstead Park, creating a high-end high-rise residential area overlooking Lake Olmstead.

Belair Town Center includes the addition of 190,000 square feet of retail and office space at the high-traffic arterial gateway from Fort Gordon and Columbia County at Interstate 20.

The agenda includes two prototypes for Augusta's rural southern quarter.

One is the Spirit Creek Rural Hamlet, which plans to cluster businesses and a creekside park with a nearby conservation subdivision.

The other is a proposed repositioning of a Blythe farm, to create "rural lifestyle" housing and scenic agricultural views for incoming visitors.

Augusta commissioners, who voted in the city's newest master plan partly in reaction to the success of the Westobou downtown Augusta-North Augusta plan also drafted by Shields, were ambivalent as it neared delivery.

"I don't think much of what's in that plan the government is going to do," remarked Commissioner Joe Bowles, who voted against commissioning the plan last year.

The agenda calls for 75 to 80 percent of project funds to come from private sources, but needs public support for the rest, according to Shields.

"I have not seen it, so I'm not in any position to comment on it," Commissioner J.R. Hatney said.

Commissioner Corey Johnson was enthusiastic about most of the agenda, although he questioned its Augusta Way proposal, saying its impact on adjoining property owners might be insurmountable.

"Some things are unrealistic," he said.

If you go

The Augusta Commission has invited the public to the unveiling of the Augusta Sustainable Development Agenda today at 6:30 p.m. in Augusta Tech Auditorium, 3200 Augusta Tech Drive.

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Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 10/14/10 - 10:37 am
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A $500,000 campaign ad for

A $500,000 campaign ad for Deke.. paid for by you. I'm sure the timing of this was no coincidence.

countyman
20624
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countyman 10/14/10 - 11:19 am
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There is a diffrence between

There is a diffrence between city and state owned streets, roads, and highways...

How can you succeed without a plan? The same people who are complaining this is a waste of money.

I sure they're the same people who said the Augusta/North Augusta master plan were pipe dreams too. Well look at the progress being made in the Augusta/North Augusta master plan..

Im sure the city will demolish Sunset(Cherry Tree) and Southside(Dogwood Terrace). Gilbert Manor was demolished and replaced with a new parking area, $112 million dental school, and the future $105 million medical educational commons building. The city recently demolished Underwood, and there is a $10 million residential development underway.

Little Lamb
47003
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Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 10:58 am
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Regarding the atrocious

Regarding the atrocious appearance of streetscapes, roadsides, medians all around Augusta, proud2bamerican wrote:

WHO is in charge of this?? WHO can do something about the ridiculous mess of our unkempt "landscaping"??

The answer is Fred (What, me worry?) Russell.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 10/14/10 - 11:14 am
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and who can hold Fred

and who can hold Fred Flintstone accountable? Maybe Wilma?

countyman
20624
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countyman 10/14/10 - 11:22 am
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GA DOT decides when to cut

GA DOT decides when to cut the grass along I-20, I-520, etc. Earlier this year DOT explained because of the budget issues. They wouldn't be cutting the grass as often.

Little Lamb
47003
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Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 11:43 am
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Yes, DOT cut back on mowing

Yes, DOT cut back on mowing frequencies. That is when city leadership should have stepped up to the plate and said, “Shame on the DOT, but the City of Augusta has too much pride to let our roadsides look like trashy people's front yards. We are going to keep them attractive if the state will not!”

But when you don't care about things, as Fred Russell does not care, then the streets and roads and sidewalks will look trashy.

TrulyWorried
15386
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TrulyWorried 10/14/10 - 11:48 am
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Truly Worried - that's what I

Truly Worried - that's what I am - about anything that pertains to the CSRA -It has been mismanaged for years and who will change it?

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 10/14/10 - 12:55 pm
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where do i sign up to get a
Unpublished

where do i sign up to get a half mill for a " master plan"??? for a half a mill i could give you one heck of a "pie-in-the-sky" plan!!!! actually, here's is a master plan for free...first get rid of subsidized/project housing, only offer any kind of housing assistance to the truly elderly and disabled-not because a child is in a "special class or have add/adhd....no subsidized housing because you are a single parent with who knows how many kids...the gov't didn't assist in their conception so it should not be the gov't responsibility to raise your child(ren) until they are old enuff to become part of the system or be a way of life for the parents and/or children, secondly build bigger and more jails, then vote out all the "bleeding heart" judges who give "slap on the wrist" sentences to those who break the law, third-HIRE MORE POLICE, create a community policing program in the inner city, get the police walking a beat to get to know the people they are sworn to protect, forth-elect commissioners who realize the way to grow a city is not by gov't funded TEE CENTERS, parking decks, canals, trolley cars, who realize in order to have a top-flight mid-level city it starts from the infrastructure(good roads, efficient functioning gov't), 5th-improve all schools, those who are disrputive, disrespectful and violent EXPELL THEM!!!, raise academic standards and expectations that they be met-demand/mandate the parents get INVOLVED!!!!! lastly create and environment of law and order, make it inhospitable for those who don't want to follow the law to live, to the point they decide to relocate outside the county!!!! those in prison they are out cleaning the streets, vacant lots, landscaping or any other quality of life issue that will lead the beautification of augusta

treerock
0
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treerock 10/14/10 - 12:57 pm
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i'm going to complain about a

i'm going to complain about a dirty city and do nothing about it!

"can't someone else do it?" - homer j. simpson

i hauled out a lot of trash from the banks of the wild and scenic chattooga river (as well as some tasty trout!) this past weekend because i chose to do something besides complain.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 10/14/10 - 12:58 pm
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I bet you that countyman will

I bet you that countyman will be at this thing.. and I bet he is "just so freakin excited!"
he probably won't be able to contain himself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyRSZZ_8KvY&feature=related

mable8
2
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mable8 10/14/10 - 01:05 pm
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This 'wish list' has been in

This 'wish list' has been in the making for a considerable amount of time, so it's really nothing new. Furthermore, the $500,000 price tag was discussed eons ago, so why all the flack today? I think one difference is the Regency Mall, where there were possibilities mentioned; now that it is owned by a private corporation, it made sense to remove RM from the plans. Actually, there were no surprises in the final version of the growth plan for Augusta---even the fact that funding this growth remains questionable.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 10/14/10 - 01:19 pm
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so mable.. why the need to

so mable.. why the need to spend $500,000? And this was not "eons" ago... it was less than a year ago that this was initiated and even Joe Bowles voted against it. How about a study on how to make Augusta government more efficient and save tax dollars? How about a study on how to actually bring real industry and jobs to Augusta? (not fanatsy wish projects)
I think we could have accomplished more in a series of free town hall meetings and round table discussions involving citizens and business leaders.

TeamLoser
1
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TeamLoser 10/14/10 - 01:25 pm
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So when Sunset(Cherry Tree)

So when Sunset(Cherry Tree) and Southside(Dogwood Terrace) get demolished will everyone there get section 8 houses? All those nice people from Gilbert Manor really helped improve some local neighborhoods once they got houses with section 8.

Little Lamb
47003
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Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 01:28 pm
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Mable8 wrote: Actually, there

Mable8 wrote:

Actually, there were no surprises in the final version of the growth plan for Augusta---even the fact that funding this growth remains questionable.

Well, if we could get Harry Reid to send some infrastructure "stimulus" money here, we could get this item, if only the city would cough up $215,000 to purchase and plant crape myrtles:

Sandbar Ferry

CabisKhan
164
Points
CabisKhan 10/14/10 - 01:31 pm
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OK So are they going to post

OK So are they going to post online the diagrams of the newly unveiled PLAN. We paid 500k for them.

mable8
2
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mable8 10/14/10 - 01:48 pm
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Emerydan: True, there was a

Emerydan: True, there was a proposed plan shown a year ago, but the plan has been discussed for a much longer period of time...which seems to have been eons ago. As for your propositions: "How about a study on how to make Augusta government more efficient and save tax dollars? How about a study on how to actually bring real industry and jobs to Augusta? (not fanatsy wish projects)," the price tag of $500,000 for a study will likely go up since you are asking for two separate studies to be completed. Of course, the price tag could go down considerably if only new commissioners were elected into office---but Augusta has seen fit to maintain the trouble makers; hence, no growth, but lots of stagnation.

Little Lamb
47003
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Little Lamb 10/14/10 - 01:39 pm
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Mr. Khan, click on this

Mr. Khan, click on this link:

The Projects

raul
5332
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raul 10/14/10 - 01:41 pm
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After reviewing all of the

After reviewing all of the posted comments, only one posted by countryman was positive. I agree that cities should have master planning, but results should be reasonable, attainable, and realistic. The plan outlined in the article met none of those criteria, in my opinion. Sad that a metropolitan area as large as RC can't do better.

Blue in Red State
0
Points
Blue in Red State 10/14/10 - 01:48 pm
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My favorite part is the one

My favorite part is the one about the Bel Air Town Center - just what we need, more traffic in what is arguably the most heavily trafficed area in the county on a daily basis. This was brilliant...

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/14/10 - 01:52 pm
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raul.. I agree.. this was a

raul.. I agree.. this was a total waste of money.. what we need are practical and attainable goals... this is a fantasy wish list that likely less than 10% will ever get accomplished, if that much. It reminds me of this elderly local architect who used to periodically come before city council and present his "vision" for downtown Augusta.. complete with models of Le-Corbusier style high rises that looked straight out of an episode of The Jetsons.. the council aways let him have it say and present his ideas and humored him.. at least his presentation didn't cost taxpayers any money.

mable8
2
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mable8 10/14/10 - 02:09 pm
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raul and countryman: I agree

raul and countryman: I agree with you with respect to the rationale that a civic plan should be reasonable, attainable, and realistic. Didn't you notice in the article that not one person specified what project was NOT realistic? Attainable? Or reasonable?? Apparently, it depends on who is defining the terms and where the specificity is in what should considered "unrealistic?" It's sort of like the adage "one man's trash is another man's treasure" sentimentality.
Personally, I like the idea of crepe myrtles growing around town, along with mimosa trees, cedars, maples, oaks and other varieties that are NOT PINE. To me, that is a reasonable, attainable, realistic project; to another, it seems frivolous, costly, and unrealistic. If a survey were conducted among all ARC RESIDENTS to list their ideas that are most important from the present study, then perhaps the notion of reasonable, attainable, and realistic might apply and narrow down the projects listed. While ARC Commissioners might be able to do better in its planning for a prospective future, it behooves them to seek input from their constituents before committing public funds to pet projects.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 10/14/10 - 02:17 pm
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mable.. yes I like crepe

mable.. yes I like crepe myrtles too and we can plant them..heck I would be happy if they just mowed the grass along the rights of way. But you mean to tell me we had to hire an outfit out of Boston and pay them a half million dollars to tell us that? You mean would could not have gotten a cgroup of our own citizens together and brainstormed and come up with planting crepe myrtles.. maybe even come up with how to pay for them.. because that is the most important element of any masterplan.. How to implemenet and pay for it and this does not address that at all.

countyman
20624
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countyman 10/14/10 - 03:10 pm
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The haters won't like this

The haters won't like this positive news one bit.. 100 new jobs coming to Richmond County. The Miller Motte Technical college is open on Frontage road in West Augusta.

http://www2.wagt.com/news/2010/oct/14/technichal-college-aims-change-eco...

Almost 500 new jobs have been announced in the last 16 days.

Teleperformance 300 jobs (10/10/2010)

Miller Motte 100 jobs (10/14/2010)

Solo Cup 72 jobs (9/29/2010)

countyman
20624
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countyman 10/14/10 - 02:48 pm
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Some posters are thinking the

Some posters are thinking the plans will sit on the shelf and collect dust.. I'm positive the naysayers said walking on the moon was impossible too.

The Augusta/North Augusta master plan was completed 19 months ago. The master plan is making progress as we speak.

North Augusta has purchased about 6 acres adjoining the river and an old 5.5-acre brick pond. Augusta leaders are acquiring land near the Judicial Center on Walton way for a new park. A company recently purchased the entire second floor at Sutherland Mill in the Saint Sebastian Health Sciences Park.

- North Augusta Town Center
- Westobou River Crossing
- Westobou Arts Center
- Marbury Village
- Augusta Canal Park
- St. Sebastian Medical Park
- Harrisburg Canal Village
- Dyess Canal Village
- Sand Bar Ferry Riverside

Westobou River Crossing, Westobou Arts Center, & Marbury Village don't have much going on.

North Augusta, Saint Sebastian Park, Harrisburg Canal Village, Sand Bar Ferry Village, Augusta Canal Park, and Dyess Canal Village all have signs of progress.

countyman
20624
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countyman 10/14/10 - 02:47 pm
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I broke down the

I broke down the Augusta/North Augusta master plan into three categories...

Completed
Saint Sebastian(except the 15th street part), library, North Augusta municipal center, Sutherland Mill, etc.

Under construction
Tee center, dental school, kroc center, judicial center, parking deck(1st level commercial and retail space), Walton Oaks, Laney Walker/Bethlehem developments, etc.

About to begin
Broad Mill Village, Martha Lester school, First Stop Village, Eve Street Row, Broad street lights/lamps, First Stop Center, etc...

The Richmond County master plan will be a great success too.

dichotomy
34487
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dichotomy 10/14/10 - 04:06 pm
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Sending up smoke signals from

Sending up smoke signals from south RC. Hello....hello. Property taxes up 35% in the past 4 years. Still waiting on the impending development boom that was used as an excuse to rezone my property from agricultural to RESIDENTIAL and raise my taxes 10 years ago. Planning and Zoning people need to have LIAR branded on their foreheads. Oh, I forgot. That decision was prompted by another one of these bogus, high dollar "plans" or "studies" done by someone else who didn't know their backside from a hole in the ground. Don't see much in this plan to justify the amount of tax I am paying either. Can we start ignoring your tax bills the same way you ignore our existence? This is just another pipe dream. We keep paying for "plans" and "studies" and the only part of them that ever gets implemented are the bad parts. Big development plan...."Impending Building Boom for South RC. Rezone 7000 Acres From Agricultural To Residential". I haven't seen as much as a wigwam built out here but the Tax Appraiser sure liked that new zoning code. When we ask for progress all we will get is the commissioning of another plan or study. Everyone will say "amen" to this plan, nothing will get done, and in two or three years we will be paying another grifter another $500K for the next "plan" just like we paid a few hundred grand for the "plan" that got all of our property rezoned for no reason. Why, because all of these plans are based on a champagne appetite and we only have a beer barrel budget. Here is a plan for you liars at the Planning and Zoning Office......REZONE THE 7000 ACRES BACK TO AGRICULTURAL and NOTIFY THE TAX APPRAISER'S OFFICE 'cause there sure ain't no development going on down south here and we ain't been in the last couple of plans so even YOU have given up on us.

TeamLoser
1
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TeamLoser 10/14/10 - 04:45 pm
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0
The tax assessor's office

The tax assessor's office could have taken that $500k, and lost $25,000 twenty more times.

countyman
20624
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countyman 10/14/10 - 06:34 pm
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Hmm??? The $1 million

Hmm??? The $1 million Marshal's office broke ground today. The building is located at Deans Bridge and Dover street. The Rocky Creek Regional Mixed-Use Center includes Deans Bridge road. The master plan is making progress the same day the city unveils the plan.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 10/14/10 - 06:58 pm
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I think it would be helpful

I think it would be helpful to refresh the painted lines that have faded from most of the busy roads I have traveled recently in Augusta. I think we would cut down on the number of accidents. If I can barely see the lines in the daytime, and have to guesstimate where the roads are at night or in the rain, can you imagine the trouble visitors are having navigating our roads?

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 10/14/10 - 07:04 pm
0
0
How many times are we

How many times are we regurgitating similar plans for property we don't even own and throwing good money away repeatedly, too? Do we own the Regency Mall property? Condemn it, acquire it for the city, THEN develop it. We could have used that $500,000 for this "plan" to pay our city employees instead of having to furlough them.

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