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Pocket park is dedicated in Heritage Pine subdivision

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Residents and supporters gathered Tuesday along the sidewalk of Pine Street to dedicate the newest pocket park in Heritage Pine subdivision.

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Mayor Deke Copenhaver (from left) and City Administrator Fred Russell look at a bench dedicated to Russell in a new pocket park in Augusta's Laney-Walker neighborhood. The dedication took place Tuesday morning.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Mayor Deke Copenhaver (from left) and City Administrator Fred Russell look at a bench dedicated to Russell in a new pocket park in Augusta's Laney-Walker neighborhood. The dedication took place Tuesday morning.

The small park features brick walkways, lighting, benches and a large magnolia tree. It’s just large enough for residents to meet, socialize and watch their children play, said Chester Wheeler, the director of Augusta’s housing and community development department.

Heritage Pine is the flagship development of the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem revitalization project, a $37.5 million city investment funded by a special 50-year hotel/motel fee to restore two historic neighborhoods.

“Today is a historic day,” Wheeler told the gathering. “Five years ago, we contemplated where we would be in terms of people coming back to this neighborhood, living in brand-new homes, and having the opportunity to socialize in three pocket parks that we’ve planned. I stand here proudly to say that two of those pocket parks have been completed.”

Nestled between newly constructed houses and duplexes, the pocket park is part of an urban design concept that adds green space to a neighborhood. They are common in urban cities and denser locales.

As soon as they were allowed, 7-year-old Pierce Andrews and his 3-year-old sister, Paige, ran across the street to the park. They chased each other around the trunk of the magnolia that provided shade for a shiny black bench bearing a plaque honoring Betty Beard, who formerly represented District 1 on the Augusta Commission.

The bench is one of five honoring Beard, Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Cedric Johnson, City Administrator Fred Russell and Marion Barnes, each of whom played a key role in revitalization of the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem district.

Revitalization began in 2007 when the commission approved a contentious deal that tied a downtown trade, exhibit and event center (the now-completed expansion of the Augusta Convention Center) to development of low-income areas. Beard helped broker a compromise with then-Commissioner Don Grantham that broke months of political stalemate.

In 2009, the commission was split again when the convention center needed more funding because of escalating design costs and revenue for low-income areas had nearly run dry during an economic recession.

Russell helped make a plan to fund the convention center and the low-income initiative; Copenhaver led a subcommittee on the convention center; and Johnson and Barnes served on the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem Redevelopment Committee.

During the revitalization process, longtime Pine Street resident Adele Randall, who died July 1, lost her home when it was torn down to make way for new construction. Having lived in the neighborhood more than 50 years, she was moved into a new duplex next door. Her address remained the same.

A plaque will soon adorn the magnolia tree, announcing that it is dedicated to the memory of Randall.

“We made sure we honored Ms. Randall for her commitment to this neighborhood,” Wheeler said. “She was someone who was the epitome of a friendly resident on this street.”

Pierce and Paige’s mother, Minimarie Andrews, said the park is a beautiful accent to the community.

She and her husband, Clayton Andrews, bought their Pine Street home in 2010 and were the neighborhood’s first property owners.

“The children and I, this is one of our evening strolls that we do,” Minimarie Andrews said. “It’s very welcoming.”

Pansy Fugghett owns a home next to the park and said it is a beautiful addition to the growing neighborhood, which she called “one of Augusta’s best-kept secrets.”

“I love the tranquility,” she said. “I love the camaraderie with the neighbors, because we all know each other.”

Staff Writer Meg Mirshak contributed to this article.

Comments (19) Add comment
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countyman
18845
Points
countyman 07/30/13 - 05:46 pm
2
6
The Laney Walker neighborhood

The Laney Walker neighborhood will transform over the next few years. The location next to the CBD and Medical District really helps out.

Pops
6439
Points
Pops 07/30/13 - 07:09 pm
6
1
I'm sure it will

be maintained and stay in great shape much as the Riverwalk has.......

countyman
18845
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countyman 07/30/13 - 07:10 pm
2
5
Riverwalk

What park attracts more tourist compared to the Riverwalk yearly?

Riverman1
78415
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Riverman1 07/30/13 - 07:18 pm
8
0
Heh heh, heh. A bench

Heh heh, heh. A bench dedicated to Fred. I would title it, "Don't worry, be happy."

Pops
6439
Points
Pops 07/30/13 - 07:19 pm
5
3
Point is

it will look like pure crap in a few years........then a huge plan will be formulated to revitalize it.......pump some more sunshine pal......

Riverman1
78415
Points
Riverman1 07/30/13 - 07:26 pm
5
3
Countyman, you mean the

Countyman, you mean the Riverwalk, the subject of Sunday's editorials?

Gage Creed
15315
Points
Gage Creed 07/30/13 - 07:58 pm
6
2
"What park attracts more

"What park attracts more tourist compared to the Riverwalk yearly?".... is this a trick question?

Pops
6439
Points
Pops 07/30/13 - 08:11 pm
7
2
Better question....

Which park would you stand a better chance of getting your skull bashed in....Riverwalk near the "CDB".....or let's say.....Blanchard Park in Columbia County......well...........?

countyman
18845
Points
countyman 07/30/13 - 08:53 pm
2
6
Great parks and greenspaces!

The first crime at the Riverwalk in over sixteen months. The Riverwalk is one of the main reasons for the 1.5 million visitors in Richmond County per year, and the Riverwalk is not even close to the full potential.

How can the Riverwalk look like quote 'pure crap' when the $100 million Watermark was announced before the recession? Why would a private developer purchase the old Fort Discovery building if the area next to the building resembled crap? How can the GGHF site be one of most desirable locations in Georgia if the Riverwalk is crap? The city of Augusta, Cal Ripken, Jim Jacoby, and GRU wanted the land(GRU won).

Please go visit Diamond Lakes, Brookfield, Augusta Common, etc.. The Butler Creek Greenway in South Augusta is moving forward and will connect Fort Gordon, Phinizy Swamp, Butler Creek Trailhead Park, and Lombard Mill Pond/Trail...

studmuffin1533
259
Points
studmuffin1533 07/30/13 - 09:00 pm
3
0
All I got was a stinkin' bench??

Fred has been on one of the most thankless jobs in government, enduring the inanity of the most dysfunctional group of morons outside of Washington. And all he gets is a stinkin' bench??
At least they could name a city bus for him: then someone would finally appreciate him. Maybe.

Gage Creed
15315
Points
Gage Creed 07/30/13 - 09:39 pm
3
2
I wonder how honest the 1.5

I wonder how honest the 1.5 million visitors to Riverwalk is?

countyman
18845
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countyman 07/30/13 - 09:48 pm
2
5
Tourist

I said Richmond County gets 1.5 million visitors per year, and the Riverwalk plays a key role in the amount of tourist.

gargoyle
12617
Points
gargoyle 07/30/13 - 10:50 pm
6
2
The little golf tournament

The little golf tournament has no impact on tourism here in Richmond County its all about the Riverwalk, Really.

LeConteSkier
463
Points
LeConteSkier 07/31/13 - 01:39 am
1
6
Heritage Pine's = Grant Park

There is life OUTSIDE of Columbia County's pearly white gated neighborhood's so get out of your boring rut. I bet the last time you really went downtown and drove around or walked around was when Nacho Mama's first opened, Beamies was considered nice dining downtown, and Regency Mall was still open with Ward's, Belk and J.B. Whites. ALOT of POSITIVE changes have taken place in Augusta since then. Yes Augusta has crime but name a decent size city that doesn't? The Laney Walker District reminds me a lot of Atlanta's Grant Park. I was amazed Sunday when I rode through Heritage Pine's and seeing ENTIRE STREETS build up and revived. The end of Laney Walker by Lucy C. Laney and A.R. Johnson High School have came ALONG WAY since I graduated college in 2007. I couldnt believe the Laney gentrification is as far along as it it. In 5 years the whole upper Laney Walker area will be gentrified and lower Laney toward the Farmers Market and fairgrounds will have began its gentrification with at least pocket renewal.

seenitB4
79583
Points
seenitB4 07/31/13 - 07:30 am
3
1
A bench in Augusta

Now I want a bench named after me...what would it take....I want it at the Old Regency Mall ....yep I do....because when I win the big one I will buy that place & do something fantastic with it...folks will come from all around just to shop & see the wonders there....even Cheesecake Factory will beg me to let them put a restaurant there....also French Market Grill....I will hire the best looking police to patrol the place...hunks in other words...

We will have a drawing every week & give away a brand new car....free KFC for a year....gotta please the crowd yaknow..:):)

Little Lamb
43512
Points
Little Lamb 07/31/13 - 07:57 am
5
0
Magnolia

Anyone who's ever had a large magnolia in their yard (or their next door neighbor's yard) knows it takes almost-daily effort picking up the leaves and other sheddings to make the place look nice. I'm sure the residents of this subdivision will form a park maintenance squad to keep it looking pretty.

soapy_725
43527
Points
soapy_725 07/31/13 - 08:30 am
0
0
Street name for pocket park: Fantasy Island. The bench, the be
Unpublished

Street name for pocket park: Fantasy Island. The bench, the be

soapy_725
43527
Points
soapy_725 07/31/13 - 08:32 am
0
0
ARC's version of Forrest Gump Bench. Stupid is as stupid does.
Unpublished

ARC's version of Forrest Gump's Bench. Stupid is as stupid does.

soapy_725
43527
Points
soapy_725 07/31/13 - 08:34 am
0
0
I love the camaraderie with the neighbors.. same as the hood
Unpublished

I love the camaraderie with the neighbors.. same as the hood

allhans
22970
Points
allhans 07/31/13 - 09:47 am
2
0
Good things are happening but

Good things are happening but what will it be like in 5 years. This might be a concern for those involved and hopefully a concentrated effort will be made to keep it alive and growing.

Gage Creed
15315
Points
Gage Creed 07/31/13 - 01:50 pm
3
0
"There is life OUTSIDE of

"There is life OUTSIDE of Columbia County's pearly white gated neighborhood's so get out of your boring rut." Another fine example of tolerance.

This followed by more bashing... from a poster I had hoped would be a voice of reason.

More of the same....

Sweet son
9526
Points
Sweet son 07/31/13 - 02:28 pm
3
0
I'm with Pops and others on the maintenance issue!

Who does the park belong to and who will maintain it? Certainly not the Housing Authority and certainly not Mr. Get a Rake Wheeler. Federal funds seem to flow freely into these 'programs' but once spent who's left to keep these little community nests up? The county tax payers! Nuff said!

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