On Memorial Day morning, I was walking on the Greeneway enjoying the view of the river and nature all around. As I came around the path by the 13th Street bridge, I left the Greeneway so I could walk up Center Street by Brick Pond Park. As I was walking on the sidewalk, I noticed the impressive brick Municipal Building on the hill.
Then as I glanced on both sides of the road I saw the beautiful brick ponds and paths that people were using to walk their dogs as they seemed to be reflecting on this peaceful morning. It struck me that the Municipal Building did not take away my enjoyment of looking at the beauty of the brick ponds, nor did the brick ponds diminish the architecture and style of our Municipal Building looming at the top of the hill.
I THEN REMEMBERED University Hospital’s legendary Dr. W. G. Watson once saying how you can tell a lot about a community by driving around it on Sunday morning and during the week. He said seeing all the cars outside the churches on Sunday tells you how important God is in a community. Just drive down Georgia and Carolina avenues between 8 a.m. and noon on any given Sunday and you will see what a Godly community we have here in North Augusta.
Dr. Watson then said that if you drive by the ball fields during the week you can see how important family is to a community. Just drive by Riverview Park or Lions Field any given weeknight to see the cars lined up as parents and grandparents watch the children play sports.
Yes, I think Dr. Watson was right that a community that focuses on their faith and their families is a great place to live.
The leaders in North Augusta have always understood the essence of Dr. Watson’s comment because the quality of life has been a priority of this city. We have seven miles of bike and walking trails with the Greeneway; a mile-long walking path around Riverview Park; countless parks for our children to play in near the neighborhoods where they live; boat ramp access; a fishing pier; and the Living History Park, which is a jewel of our community.
WE HAVE SIDEWALKS and greenspace throughout the city, and a wonderful Public Safety Department. I don’t know how many brave officers we have on the road, but my guess is that we have more than most communities our size. My wife and I have always felt safe in this community in which we have raised our three children.
I have begun to see “Support Project Jackson” signs popping up around town, and I started thinking how fortunate we are in North Augusta. Our forefathers, and now our current city leaders, have focused on the important things that makes a community a viable place to live – infrastructure of sidewalks, parks, green space and safety. We already have the foundation in place because we are a community with a strong faith in God and in families. We now can develop the river and other parts of the town because of the foundation already in place.
Most towns grow with industry and developments that bring people to it for economic benefits. As the people come and the population grows, the community has to build more infrastructure and invests in things that benefit quality of life for its citizens, such as sidewalks, schools, parks and recreational greenspace.
BALANCING ALL of these things become difficult. In North Augusta, we have these important parts in place. Now we can begin to develop the types of initiatives such as Project Jackson and others that not only bring tourism and business to our area – which increases our tax base – but also the amenities that will continue to increase the quality of life of its citizens.
As I mentioned earlier, neither the Municipal Building nor the brick ponds took away from each other. It occurs to me that our citizens and leaders understand what is important. I am confident in not only our city officials but organizations like the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce and North Augusta 2000 Community Foundation. They still have the same vested interest in this community as they have over the past several decades. Our leaders know how to incorporate growth while keeping intact the real foundations of what makes this community special with its quality of life.
As long as our churches and ball fields are packed, and we continue to respect our greenspaces, I know we can grow and develop this community so we can all continue to enjoy living in North Augusta, which is South Carolina’s riverfront.
(The writer has lived in North Augusta for more than 20 years.)