An important event in the history of Augusta will take place very soon.
On Wednesday, Feb. 4, Augusta Tomorrow will host a presentation in the River Room of St. Paul's Church at 6 p.m.
ICON Architecture of Boston Massachusetts, one of the very best urban planning organizations, will give a 30-minute presentation on recommendations for economic development in Augusta and North Augusta for the next 20 to 25 years. This presentation will summarize the results of a major planning effort that has been underway for more than a year.
This enterprise was guided by a 20-member task force made up of representatives from both North Augusta and Augusta. Twenty-six planning firms competed for this planning contract, and ICON was unanimously selected by the task force.
THE NEW URBAN core master plan is the result of a public/private planning effort. Funds for this study came from three sources: The cities of Augusta and North Augusta contributed half the funds, and private donations the other half.
ICON's research was very thorough. There were more than 100 meetings with citizens of both communities; some of these meetings were public, so a total of more than 500 people had the opportunity to have inputs. Hence, it is fair to point out that this is a true community plan.
It is fitting that this presentation take place in a room that is situated directly on the Riverwalk and overlooking North Augusta. The new River Room at St. Paul's Church is a good example of what can be done to enhance our downtown area.
Many Augustans and North Augustans who have a profound and abiding interest in the future of our two cities, as well as the entire CSRA, were deeply involved in this effort.
One way to acknowledge their commitment and hard work is to list each member: Michael Ash, Braye Boardman, Nadia Butler, Robert Cooks, Walter Dukes, "Skip" Grkovic, Kyle Howell, Steven Kendrick, Robert Kuhar, Charles Martin Julian Osbon, Robert Osborne, Monty Osteen, George Patty, Pat Rice, Tom Robertson, Dayton Sherrouse, Turner Simkins, Dennis Skelley and Chester Wheeler.
I had the great honor of being involved in a number of planning efforts during my Air Force career. Here are a few insights I have gained from watching plans succeed and fail. From my experience, success in any planning effort requires the following:
- a serious plan---put together by the very best minds available (underfunded plans seldom yield positive results)
- a long-term horizon -- 20 years is ideal.
- a real commitment by key leaders to implement the plan.
- a warm relationship across institutional barriers (the close cooperation between our two cities is a very good sign).
- general support throughout the entire community or communities. Cynicism can be deadly to successful implementation. Hence, I urge everyone to ask lots of tough questions, but to be supportive of this effort.
BRAYE BOARDMAN will be the master of ceremony at Wednesday's event. There will be lots of time for questions and discussion after the presentation. Everyone is welcome; there is no charge for attending. The entire team is hopeful there is a large turnout on Wednesday. I look forward to seeing you there.
It may be fitting to end this article with a quote from Proverbs:
"Where there is no vision the people perish."
(Maj. Gen. Perry Smith, U.S. Air Force retired, served as the top Air Force planner in the Pentagon during the Reagan administration. He lives in Augusta.)