Street's closing opposed

MCG wants changes on road that runs through campus

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Medical College of Georgia President Ricardo Azziz faced a suspicious and occasionally angry crowd Tuesday night over the school's proposal to close part of Laney-Walker Boulevard inside the campus to create a pedestrian area that would honor the street's namesakes.

Azziz did his best to present it as beneficial to the college and the community as MCG embarks on a strategy for growth.

"A university cannot grow if its surrounding community does not grow," he said.

In fact, the two are one, Azziz said.

"We are your community," he said. "We are you, and you are us."

MCG is the community's second-largest employer, but Azziz said more could be done.

"At the end of the day, all of us want a more competitive university, a more competitive health system because it is what we have in our community," he said. "It is who provides care to many of us. It is who provides employment to many of you."

Many in the crowd saw a division by the closing of a major road in a primarily black community where Laney-Walker has historic significance.

"It interrupts a culture," said Dr. James Carter, an Augusta historian. "It interrupts a community."

Robert Cooks, of Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corp., questioned why the school's plans couldn't be coordinated better with plans already under way to improve the area, and what impact the closure would have on traffic in the area.

"How can you cut the aorta and still survive?" Cooks asked.

Azziz insisted the change could encourage more interaction between the school and the area.

"We're not trying to withdraw our community commitment," he said. "In fact, we want to expand it."

The Augusta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has signaled its opposition.

"If we continue to allow everything that is important to our community to be taken away with the stroke of a pen and by way of politics and manipulation, we will never preserve the integrity of our community and never build a partnership that will unify us," branch President Charles J. Smith Sr. said.

Azziz insisted that studies on traffic impact are still being done and that the idea is still just a proposal.

Augusta Commission member J.R. Hatney begged to differ.

"You don't seem to want to entertain any alternatives," he said. "You don't sound like you're negotiating. You sound like you're telling people what you want to do."

After the meeting, Azziz said that he was still willing to listen and that more forums will be held.

"My job is to build bridges," he said.

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Brad Owens
4287
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Brad Owens 12/15/10 - 04:04 am
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0
I am not sure about this one

I am not sure about this one but what is the difference in closing this and closing Central at the water works?

I know of no single business that will be destroyed by this move MCG is wanting and I have only driven through that section of MCG a few times out of th ethousands of times I have driven from downtown to the Hill.

Sounds to me like some folks want a "payoff" before this can move forward. I will call it the "TEE-Affect" which is when certain groups inside the community feel that they must ALWAYS receive to go along with things now?

Seems that the TEE has made folks see the light! They can get part of the pie if they just stand in the way of the plans then "make a deal."

I am not sure how this closing will hurt African-Americans anymore than the closing of Central Ave hurt white folks.

Someone explain it to me please,

Brad

MJ
0
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MJ 12/15/10 - 04:08 am
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Hey Tom, Why does this

Hey Tom,

Why does this headline have a possessive?

"Street Closing Opposed" perhaps?

There is also a lot of "he said" in the article. If you are quoting the person, we KNOW he said it. Quoting the person then telling us (immediately following the quote) he said it seems like something you'd expect to see published by the Department of Redundancy Dept.

...or maybe the over-zealous moviegoer that likes to repeat lines in the movie, "Awwww girl, he said..."

BETONIT
2
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BETONIT 12/15/10 - 05:50 am
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Errr, Central Ave. isn't

Errr, Central Ave. isn't closed anymore... Furthermore, just because you don't drive in that area doesn't mean that others don't smh.

ColCo
703
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ColCo 12/15/10 - 07:26 am
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Walton Way and Wrightsboro

Walton Way and Wrightsboro Road are viable alternatives for traffic. I'm sure Athens would be happy to close a street for MCG.

treerock
0
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treerock 12/15/10 - 07:42 am
0
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closing off laney-walker

closing off laney-walker would cut access to free health care for people that don't want to work for it...

Riverman1
82180
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Riverman1 12/15/10 - 08:07 am
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It would help the campus

It would help the campus aesthetics and safety. With the jobs MCG provides that community, I'd give MCG anything I could. Closing the street won't cost anyone in the community a penny.

Brad Owens
4287
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Brad Owens 12/15/10 - 08:18 am
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RM1, That is my point too.

RM1,

That is my point too. Exactly WHO is being hurt by this and what does it have to do with African-American civil rights?

Seems to me that this short portion dumps off at a Wife Saver and Texaco on one end, and the railroad and three of four sides owned by MCG already. Everything in between is MCG as far as I know.

It seems that the issue is access to Laney Walker Blvd right? Well, you have Wrightsboro on one end and Gordon Hwy on the other. Not to mention all the connecting streets between Laney Walker and Walton Way from Gordon Hwy to Wrightsboro.

What is the REAL problem here?

Brad

Riverman1
82180
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Riverman1 12/15/10 - 08:22 am
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MJ, ah, you are sacrificing

MJ, ah, you are sacrificing clarity for a misguided Fleet Street style that leads to ambiguity.

MJ
0
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MJ 12/15/10 - 09:02 am
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"MJ, ah, you are sacrificing

"MJ, ah, you are sacrificing clarity for a misguided Fleet Street style that leads to ambiguity." Riverman1 said.

usafvet
3
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usafvet 12/15/10 - 09:03 am
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We as a community should not

We as a community should not be hampered by a group of citizens that contribute so little to the welfare of this community. This is not (or should not be) a racial battle. If a person is too stupid to go over one street and when around the closed portion, return to their only known route of travel, then they shouldn't be on the loose anyway. It is time to over rule the babbling, non tax paying group that is destroying this City. Pay the fiddler, or step back and let the payers dance.

Justin4466
43
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Justin4466 12/15/10 - 09:07 am
0
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Take out race, history or any

Take out race, history or any of the other superficial opposing views I have heard and tell me who closes a major thoroughfare to improve campus aesthetics. As for safety give us some facts about accidents on that stretch of Laney Walker. We will wait for the traffic impact study. How many major Universities are there that do not have traffic on a city street flowing through?
This sounds like a case for our district one commissioner Aitken to take a stand on for the people he represents. And Brad how can you have such a strong opinion about an area you have not traveled, even when you were here and with misinformation (Central Avenue closed) to draw a comparison.

catfish20
250
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catfish20 12/15/10 - 09:39 am
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I strongly support the

I strongly support the closing of this section of Laney Walker Blvd. for the purpose of adding green space and improving the safety of the students and patients of MCG. I personally think it is a brilliant idea. The students, doctors, patients, and employees of the Medical College of Georgia are not rich and lilly white. They are Africian-Americians, Caucasians, Indians, Hispanics, etc... Some are wealthy, some are middle class and some are poor. They will ALL benefit from this improvement. Civil Rights issue...I don't get it.

comet2u
28
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comet2u 12/15/10 - 09:53 am
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Mr Hatney is right on. Azizz

Mr Hatney is right on. Azizz clearly is not concerned about the community and too righteous to even listen. If you job is to build bridges then why build barriers?

twentieth century man
102
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twentieth century man 12/15/10 - 11:44 am
0
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It's not clear to me, despite

It's not clear to me, despite its removal, that the 1980s Gilbert Manor politics that negatively affected Dr Steinfeld are dead. I am interested in the outcome of this dispute. At any rate, Dr Azziz can always move to Athens.

GuesS_wHU
3
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GuesS_wHU 12/15/10 - 12:18 pm
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The proposed "green space" is

The proposed "green space" is right in front of Dr. Azziz's office. I don't believe that has any thing to do with this project though. Also, if he spends the college into bankruptcy how is that going to benefit the community. Campus employees already had 6 furlough days. Next year, they might have 365 furlough days.

Brad Owens
4287
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Brad Owens 12/15/10 - 12:56 pm
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"misinformation?" Excuse me?

"misinformation?"

Excuse me? Central Ave most certainly was closed for a looooong time and there WAS a debate on if it should be cloed for good. Race was never mentioned in the entire debate, so I guess you just missed my point on that.

Oh by the way, I delivered office supplies to MCG on that street for years and years. I also drove from downtown to my home on Hickman for years as well. wehn I didn't use Eve Street, I used the 13th to Wrightsboro Rd and it crosses this very spot.

The point I am making is that this has NOTING to do with race, why do you think it does?

Brad

csrawarrior
0
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csrawarrior 12/15/10 - 02:02 pm
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Excuse my ignorance but I

Excuse my ignorance but I really fail to see what all the fuss is about here. If I understand this correctly MCG wants to close the road between 15th St. and RA Dent, the last time I checked everything in that section of road is MCG property. Nothing historical or relating to the Laney-Walker legacy. When you continue westward across 15th there is what, maybe a half mile more before the road ends at the Paine college tennis courts. So I honestly have to ask, what is the real beef here? The actual Laney-Walker neighborhood is east of RA Dent and it is being left as is. Just a question.

Oh and hey Brad, to some people race is everything! Step on my toe by mistake and you are a racist. The people complaining about this know good and well this closure is not affecting the actual Laney-Walker historical area and as a matter of fact MCG improvements will only help the area as a whole. But I guess some people just cannot stand progress!

GuesS_wHU
3
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GuesS_wHU 12/15/10 - 02:46 pm
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How is a park and clock tower

How is a park and clock tower in front of the MCG Presidents office going to "help the area as a whole"? The acutal "green" part of this project is not even going to cover 50% of the closed section of Laney-Walker. He is building himself a park folks and dropping loads of "misinformation" about the reasons behind it.

My biggest "fuss" with this is funding and need. How much is it going to cost and where is that money going to come from? If furlough days are expected in 2011 why is a non-academic investment even being planned?

As far as need, it's completely unnecessary. A simple, raised cross-walk would be enough if there is a true safety concern, which I doubt there is.

iLove
626
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iLove 12/15/10 - 04:30 pm
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“Before Laney-Walker became
Unpublished

“Before Laney-Walker became Laney-Walker, there was no street in Augusta named for anyone of African-American decent,” Millender said, explaining that the street was chosen because of all the important institutions located there, including Tabernacle Baptist Church, Lucy Laney High School, A.R. Johnson High School and Pilgrim Health Life Insurance Co.

“In addition to that, I think it is important that you realize the attitude of many people in the black community in terms of what we have already given up to the Medical College of Georgia. I speak specifically of Gilbert Manor.”

Gilbert Manor was a housing complex built as a monument to John Wesley Gilbert, an Augusta native who was an archaeologist, as well as the first graduate of Paine College, the first black professor of the school and the first black student to receive a master’s degree from Brown University.

In the 1940s, the city of Augusta built the housing complex across the street from Paine College in honor of Gilbert. But the low-income housing complex was torn down in 2008 to make room for MCG’s expansion.

Millender said he did not want to speak against Azziz’s vision, but he couldn’t sit back and watch the medical school close a portion of Laney-Walker Boulevard without explaining the importance of that street to all of Augusta.

iLove
626
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iLove 12/15/10 - 04:31 pm
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@least the other local paper
Unpublished

@least the other local paper is giving a history lesson about this issue.

lifelongresident
1323
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lifelongresident 12/15/10 - 05:32 pm
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ilove, so let me get this
Unpublished

ilove, so let me get this straight, to honor a great academic/archeologist instead of a statue, street or school name a public housing projects where nothing but drugs, crime and poverty thrive...please ilove tell me what if any are the benefits that came from gilbert manor???? please no "well 50 years ago it was a thriving neighborhood" what i am asking for is current benefits in terms of tax dollars, or positive influence on society that came from gilbert manor. the energy from this "so-called" uproar should be used in an effort to clean up the remaming section of laney-walker, other crime ridden areas of the city, a march on the school board to demand that all disrespectful, violent, disinterested student be expelled to create an environment conducive to the eductaion process, or a march demamding all sorry parents start raising their children instead of expecting society to do it, or a march demanding more personal accountablity and partnering with the police to locate and expose the drug houses, help apprehend all lawbreakers and demand all property owners take care of the thousands of vacant houses that are a magnent for prostitutes, drug dealers and other illegal activities or just rotting and falling down....

bettyboop
7
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bettyboop 12/15/10 - 06:03 pm
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LOL...LLR I was thinking the

LOL...LLR I was thinking the same thing..of what possible good could keeping gilbert manor standing have done?...People really can not be upset that it's gone.?

followthemoney
0
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followthemoney 12/15/10 - 08:52 pm
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Things will never change in

Things will never change in Disgusta.

Discussionstarter
478
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Discussionstarter 12/15/10 - 10:43 pm
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MCG is one of our biggest

MCG is one of our biggest assets. Safety is a major factor on this road. Closing this section of road will not hurt anyone! You just have to go two blocks to the left or right and you will be able to get on Laney Walker. We should focus on building a nice loop around the perimeter of MCG and University Hospital; that would benefit everyone. And for those of you who are trying to make this a racial issue.... shame on you!

Brad Owens
4287
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Brad Owens 12/16/10 - 05:30 am
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Guess whu, I may be wrong,

Guess whu,

I may be wrong, but CLOSING a road is much cheaper than building overhead crosswalks.

So, what was you point again? Because your argument doesn't make any sense.

MCG is the 2nd largest employer left in RC, we should help them do whatever they need to expand and grow. Growth of an employer means more jobs, more jobs is GOOD!

Again, explain to me ho building overpass walkways are cheaper than closing the road again?

Brad

oldfella
620
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oldfella 12/16/10 - 07:11 am
0
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MCG employs hundreds of

MCG employs hundreds of African - Americans (and the combined Augusta health field employs thousands) so I would think that food on the table trumps "historic preservation." And the historic aspects could still be showcased + displayed with monuments and so on while still on MCG property. There is much room for compromise if people really calm down about this. We should all be glad Augusta is a thriving, growing city unlike Detroit for example.

Brad Owens
4287
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Brad Owens 12/16/10 - 10:23 am
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oldfella, You cannot use

oldfella,

You cannot use facts to trump racial arguments in cases like this, don't you know that?

Whenever the race card is dealt, it trumps ALL sane arguments of positions.

Race trumps truth everytime,

Brad

GuesS_wHU
3
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GuesS_wHU 12/16/10 - 11:26 am
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0
Hi Brad. You do know that MCG

Hi Brad. You do know that MCG isn't going to be MCG anymore? Did you hear about the 2million dollars being spent to change that name?

What is your stake in this arguement? Do you work for MCG, MCG Health Systems or PPG? Do you use this section of Laney-Walker? Do you even have a clue what the project plan is calling for besides what is being fed to the public by Dr. Azziz? Do you know that no budget has been announced for this project?

I do not know what an additional crosswalk would cost so I can't really say which option would be more expensive. I can tell you which option would not disrupt traffic flow in Augusta.

In all honesty, neither needs to be done. I've been on campus for nearly 30 years and have never had a problem with traffic on Laney-Walker. It's well marked with several crossing areas on the street level and has an enclosed crosswalk that connects the main hospital with another building on the other side of Laney-Walker. It is capable of carrying employees, students, faculty and even patients across Laney-Walker with no threat of weather or cars.

It's funny how you ignore parts of my post and take a rigid stance on only the last part of what I posted.

Southern Sailor
0
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Southern Sailor 12/16/10 - 12:11 pm
0
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GuesS_wHU, to go along with

GuesS_wHU, to go along with the $2,000,000 new name, Dr. Azziz has decided to do a MAJOR remodeling of the executive floor of his MCG so that it is more welcoming to a renaissance man. Inquiring minds want to know where is the money for that coming from and how much is it? We have not forgotten the big bucks spent to remodel his house on the Hill before he moved in, which included building a safe place for his wine collection and a new studio for him to do art. All of this, and the worker bees do not get raises and have furlough daze. Augusta I guess is now the Beverly Hills of the South because no one is stopping this spendthrift

justthefacts
21342
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justthefacts 12/16/10 - 12:55 pm
0
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Wonder how this would effect

Wonder how this would effect businesses, like Wife Saver? Any thought given to that? I wonder how many students have actually been injured through the years.

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