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Riverwalk Augusta improvement plan yet to reach fruition

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 8:34 PM
Last updated Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013 1:48 AM
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After a South Carolina couple were brutally beaten May 3 on Riverwalk Augusta, city leaders and residents called for major safety and aesthetic improvements at the downtown park along the Savannah River.

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A worker blows trimmings along Riverwalk Augusta. The improvement plan involves fixing broken lights, trimming trees and shrubbery, bringing more activities to the riverwalk and increasing the police presence.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
A worker blows trimmings along Riverwalk Augusta. The improvement plan involves fixing broken lights, trimming trees and shrubbery, bringing more activities to the riverwalk and increasing the police presence.

An improvement plan was created to fix broken lighting, trim shrubbery and trees, create more family friendly activities and increase police activity at the riverwalk.

Nearly four months after the call to action, some work has started but much of the plan remains to be seen or completed.

Augusta Parks, Recreations and Facil­ities Director Bob Levine said the riverwalk is discussed weekly in Monday staff meetings. Work has not progressed as fast as possible, he said, partially because rains in early July flooded the lower level.

“It’ll be good to get us energized to get us doing the right thing. We are trying to develop a sense of urgency to get repairs done,” Levine said.

Wesley Spires and Ashley Solesbee were sitting on a bench on the upper level of the riverwalk May 3 when two men, one using an aluminum bat, attacked the couple. Both suffered facial bone fractures, and Spires spent months in the hospital with life-threatening head injuries.

On Aug. 24, Kevin D. Rich­ardson and Robey E. Moses pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder and two counts of armed robbery in the attack.

One of the largest components of the plan was spending about $183,000 to remove trees and raise limbs on 300 trees to improve visibility and security. The tree work must go out to bid, so Levine said work won’t begin until at least December.

Another part of the plan was to re-lamp and clean all light fixtures along the brick paths, many of which were broken.

City traffic engineer Steve Cas­sell, whose department was tasked with fixing the lights, said the work was started but not completed. A special lift needed to reach the lights broke and is being repaired. Cassell said lights on the lower level between Sixth and Eighth streets still need repairs.

Levine said there is already a noticeable difference at the riverwalk and the area is brighter because of lighting and some tree work. Eventually, he
wants to replace all fixtures with energy-efficient LED lights.

Crews corrected any inoperable low-level lighting inset into brick walls and fixed broken drinking fountains, except one where work would take longer to fix a broken water line. Materials were ordered for masonry work such as missing bricks and cracked granite paving.

“It’s an ongoing process. Some things can happen. Some things have to wait till next year,” Levine said.

Improvements that must wait include events and activities that need to be included in next year’s budget.

Levine said the department wants to find a promoter for the Jessye Norman Amphitheater at Ninth Street to get more events at the venue. A request for qualifications is being prepared, he said.

Soon, a part-time department staff member will start walking the riverwalk during weekday evenings and some hours on weekends, Levine said. The worker, who will wear a shirt identifying themselves as a staff member, will inspect bathrooms, empty trash barrels, check for spilled trash and make work orders for any
larger repairs. The worker will be trained to notify police about any security issues.

“We have to keep our eye on the ball and not forget as things deteriorate, we have to keep fixing them,” he said.

The Richmond County Sher­iff’s Office said it has increased police presence at the riverwalk and downtown since the May incident.

Two officers, primarily patrolling on foot, were added to downtown, splitting their shift between Broad Street and the riverwalk, said Sgt. Shane McDaniel. The
added patrols increased manpower in the area by 50 percent.

Deputies working their regular shifts downtown are encouraged to make multiple visits to the riverwalk during a shift, McDaniel said.

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Little Lamb
46903
Points
Little Lamb 08/31/13 - 08:44 pm
7
1
From the story: Augusta’s

From the story:

Augusta’s Parks, Recreations and Facilities Director Bob Levine said the department wants to find a promoter for the Jessye Norman Amphitheater on the riverwalk at Ninth Street to get more events at the outdoor venue. A request for qualifications is being prepared, he said.

Come on, Bob! This is absolutely ridiculous. The amphitheater is a venue that people should rent directly from the Parks & Recreation Department. Just charge a low and fair rent and the people will use it. We do not need to pay some failed rock ’n’ roll manager to set up an office with a secretary and call himself a promoter. We are talking money down a rat hole here.

Hiring a promoter will not stop crime. Get on the correct page, Bob!

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/01/13 - 08:14 am
5
1
Nobody wants to go to events

Nobody wants to go to events in the amphitheatre because of the poor design and those terrible steps. I've been to a couple of things there, and yes, the steps are awful.

No promoter can fix that.

seenitB4
90715
Points
seenitB4 09/01/13 - 08:20 am
6
0
Gung Ho---No

If the beating of that innocent couple can't make the city jump---well, my friends, Nothing will.....what will it take? A baby killing?

How soon we forget. :(

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 09/01/13 - 09:31 am
7
2
Why would anyone have to be

Why would anyone have to be beaten on Riverwalk for the city to think about mustering up the energy to do their jobs? Ballpark to maintain anyone?

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 09/01/13 - 09:45 am
0
0
Maintenance funds redirected. The ARC of No Covenant.
Unpublished

Maintenance funds redirected. The ARC of No Covenant.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 09/01/13 - 09:47 am
0
0
Build it. Scam the construction cost. The ARC of No Covenant.
Unpublished

Build it. Scam the construction cost. The ARC of No Covenant.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 09/01/13 - 09:48 am
0
0
Government by smoke and mirrors. ARC of No Covenant.
Unpublished

Government by smoke and mirrors. ARC of No Covenant.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 09/01/13 - 09:49 am
0
0
Management by ego & ignorance. ARC of No Covenant.
Unpublished

Management by ego & ignorance. ARC of No Covenant.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 09/01/13 - 09:50 am
0
0
The Seven Deadly Sins rule in the ARC of No Covenant.
Unpublished

You can find them all at city hall.

deestafford
28644
Points
deestafford 09/01/13 - 11:51 am
4
2
Couldn't this cleanup and beautification situation be solved

in one weekend by asking for people to volunteer to bring their own equipment and come down and help do the work needed under the supervision of the Parks and Recreation folks? I'm sure there are a lot of people who would be glad to help out.

raul
5318
Points
raul 09/01/13 - 01:25 pm
4
0
I keep hearing posters

I keep hearing posters recommend using county jail employees and those doing community service as part of their jail sentence to do clean up and maintenance on projects such as this and downtown cleanup. Can anyone give me some feedback as to whether that has been implemented? And if not, why not?

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/01/13 - 02:27 pm
4
3
Raul- because Augusta is

Raul- because Augusta is broke, they have a trustee crew, but they are kept busy with all of the other maintenance- like clearing right-of-ways- and there is already too much work for them.

It takes a lot of money to run a trustee crew. You have to have a deputy to guard them, you need trucks and equipment, you have to have trustees willing to do it- most of them don't want to, they don't have to- and they have to be in good physical shape. Most prisoners are sick, years of drinking, drugging, and living a stressful lifestyle has caught up to them.

You have to have prisoners with clean records, who have been convicted of non-violent crimes like failure to pay child support, writing bad checks, etc.

Nobody wants murderers and rapists and burglars working around them.

countyman
20584
Points
countyman 09/01/13 - 06:44 pm
2
8
The city of Augusta is

The city of Augusta is definitely not broke. Check the bond rating and the reserves before you make false accusations.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 09/01/13 - 07:31 pm
4
0
Countyman is right

... the city is not broke. It should be with megabucks spent on unread studies and the serial forgiveness of loans, not to mention self-inflicted lost lawsuits, but as long as the city has an entire county to tax without having to provide anything in return by way of services, it'll remain solvent.

gargoyle
18553
Points
gargoyle 09/01/13 - 07:38 pm
4
0
Correct me if I'm wrong

Correct me if I'm wrong hasn't there been discussion about dipping into reserves? And aren't reserves tagged for unforeseen events such as Weather Events, Emergency Response to Disasters and Zombies ?

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/01/13 - 07:56 pm
5
0
If Augusta ISN"T broke, then

If Augusta ISN"T broke, then WHY is the school system in dire straits, and WHY are there so many dilapidated, rundown areas of Augusta? Why, if Augusta isn't broke, was the Riverwalk allowed to deteriorate in the first place? Why is there trash everywhere you look? Why are there potholes all over the place? Why are the cemeteries in such poor shape?

Why, if Augusta isn't broke, do they need every grant ever invented, to run things?

Why, if Augusta isn't broke, are they clutching at straws and every get-rich-quick boondoggle around, like trolleys to nowhere and light-rail systems in a place that doesn't even have adequate bus service for many of its residents, and conducting study after study after study?

Why IS the transit system so terrible, if Augusta is doing so well?

Why does every audit of RC finances contain qualified opinions?

Why, if Augusta is doing so well, did they need SPLOST?

Why are the net assets, as of 12/31/2011, only $913 million, million of of a county that has been in existence for over 200 years? Of that $913 million, $604 million, or 65%, of the assets, are capital assets and aren't free to be spent. They got that high bond rating by pledging assets, Countyman. When you pledge assets, you tie them up and make it so that they can't be spent. I know that, others know that, you don't seem to know that.

The combined fund balance, Countyman, was $234 million, and of that, only $29 million is unpledged.

Why is there such small population growth, if Augusta is doing so well?

You don't know how to read financial statements. I do, and so do others, and that is why I say that Augusta is broke. And I'm not concerned in the slightest if you think it's false or not.

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/01/13 - 07:58 pm
5
0
Why is the Sheriff's

Why is the Sheriff's Department and the Fire Department so understaffed?

Why is the sewer system in such need of repair, and why are people's homes being flooded every time it rains?

Why is there a poverty rate of 23% and an unemployment rate of over 9%, if Augusta is doing so well?

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/01/13 - 08:01 pm
5
0
Why is the Parks and

Why is the Parks and Recreation Department so understaffed?

Why are there only 4 people, according to Lori Davis, to cut grass all across the county?

Why are there only enough police officers to arrest 1 out of 6 criminals?

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/01/13 - 08:01 pm
5
1
Why, if Augusta is doing so

Why, if Augusta is doing so well, was the Patch allowed to fall apart?

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/01/13 - 08:03 pm
5
0
Why does there continue to be

Why does there continue to be sewage spillages at the Water Treatment plant, if Augusta is doing so well?

Why is Lake Olmstead full of silt, but there isn't enough money to dredge it?

I could go on and on, but I'm depressing myself.

Gage Creed
17857
Points
Gage Creed 09/01/13 - 08:32 pm
2
1
Joe Isuzu... please report to

Joe Isuzu... please report to the Hale Street Gate... you just got P'wned...

Pops
10415
Points
Pops 09/01/13 - 08:49 pm
4
1
How about another

hotel/motel tax.....yeah.....that's the ticket.......

Riverman1
86856
Points
Riverman1 09/02/13 - 02:39 am
3
1
When you spend more money

When you spend more money than you take in eventually you end up broke. Dipping into the reserve fund to pay the bills is like burning the trailer steps for firewood to stay warm.

Brad Owens
4718
Points
Brad Owens 09/02/13 - 09:15 am
2
1
No surprise here...

This is the regular MO for things like this. Here is the way it works in RC; Ignore problems, cut funding back for required services and fund unneeded projects, make race the most central issue, when events happen react with press conferences and spout stats that show the problem is not a 'real' problem, promise "big changes", "a refocused spending priority", and as always "Changes" to fix the problems that led to the disaster.

After it is off the front pages we see that in reality NOTHING has changed or will be done to solve the problem, there has been no shift in spending priorities nor has there even been a policy change to be ignored.

Seems that only the Sheriff has shown leadership on the crime issue downtown.

Brad

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 09/02/13 - 09:29 am
0
0
Here's an answer: Because we
Unpublished

Here's an answer: Because we have public officials (City/State) who are incompetent. Some of them can't stay out of trouble themselves long enough to take care of the city. They just want to be see on their thrones and call each other idiots (hello...pot, this is the kettle). -then there's taxes.. taxes are a necessary evil that pays for these type projects.

Privy
104
Points
Privy 09/02/13 - 12:31 pm
1
0
Blah...

Before consolidation there were crews on regular routes cleaning catch basins and checking the storm water lines on a regular basis. This was cut out by the Administrator, each department had to make cuts from their services and there were numerous services that were cut. I challenge you to run all around this city and look at the entrances to the storm water system, most are so covered in vegetation and debris that the flow of water is dramatically decreased entering the system, the catch basins are full of debris hence further reducing the effectiveness of the system. Wonder why there is so much flooding?

Beautification is practically non existent now for the city (If not for the private sector the city would look a lot worse). After consolidation there has been nothing but cutbacks in funds, employees, and services across the majority of departments. Combining of departments leaving the wrong person in charge and giving out raises. Did the city actually save money? I bet not from what I see and hear. There are actually to many chiefs and not enough Indians. And the chiefs do not overlook their domain as they should. Most are working to put out small fires here and there instead of dealing with what is causing all the problems. They are not building a strong foundation/family within their ranks.

There are more than 4 (four) employees maintain the grass around the city, but there are only four staff members at RiverWalk to do all the maintenance of the grounds and there has never been a budget item for upkeep of the grounds besides general maintenance.

Detail Crews - not "inmate", that term is not liked. But a majority of the crews do want to work, it gets them out from behind the bars and gives them something to do and there are some that do great work. Problems with the crews are lack of supervision from the guard or unethical conduct. Not mentioning the scandals that were uncovered and not reported or someone not being sentenced to serve jail time. And yes there are rapist etc. working around regular employees. At least they were just a short time ago. IMHO there needs to be one person over deciding where the detail crews are needed most by prioritizing what is affecting the most citizens and or. There are numerous crews scattered throughout the departments to where prioritizing would be of a great value. However, the details would need not know prior to where their assignments are everyday, thus slowing the number of care packages that are dropped off for them at regular routine sites.

Now as far a promoter, wth do we need this, why is there a Special Events if not to promote venues?

BTW isn't taking images of details crews a no no?

Just saying

countyman
20584
Points
countyman 09/02/13 - 06:49 pm
0
1
The 23% poverty rate

The 23% poverty rate something continues to quote is the average between 2007-2011....

The year is 2013, and they continue to misinform the public.

corgimom
34028
Points
corgimom 09/02/13 - 07:35 pm
1
0
YES, Countyman, the 2012 data

YES, Countyman, the 2012 data hasn't yet been compiled!

If anything, the poverty rate hasn't gotten better, unemployment in Augusta is very high, and too many of the new jobs that are being created in Augusta are low-paying retail and fast food and call centers.

But since you think I'm misinforming people, Countyman, please tell me. What's the 2012 rate? I'd be VERY interested in that, since those numbers haven't been released yet!

Countyman, your posts just get better and better!

Cameron Poe
933
Points
Cameron Poe 09/03/13 - 04:57 pm
1
0
It actually is not that

It actually is not that expensive for prison labor. Or should I say it will be cheaper than paying some private group to do nothing. Aside from the wages from the guard who would be on duty regardless and the gas for the bus and equipment (which the city could easily provide) the wages for prison labor in Georgia are minimal. Also, where is the money that was originally allocated for this sole purpose? Was it spent elsewhere illegally? Sounds like a paper trail needs to be followed AC.

And what is wrong with making these criminals clean up the city they denigrate with their crimes day in and day out?

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