I was born and raised a mere 50 feet away from Wife Saver. I grew up here, and know these streets well. My kids roll down the hill in my mom's front yard that I enjoyed as a child. The same innocence doesn't exist, but there is a pride and safety I feel in my community.
The dynamics of our neighborhood's decline include several factors: economic stagnation, abandoned housing, greater unemployment and, most importantly, a sense of hopelessness. I can look out my mom's kitchen window at the same group of men many neighbors fear. I grew up with them and went to the same schools. I know personally the struggles and sense of no hope and no future.
Looking around our streets, there is nothing to take pride in. The OK Pantry, the big empty field on Wheeler Road or the almost totally abandoned houses on Mount Auburn? How about the former Weed School? Take your pick of the "pride" of our community. Why is it that Berckmans Road was paved from Washington Road all the way to Wheeler? The state Department of Transportation couldn't continue up Highland Avenue? We are truly a neighborhood of have-nots!
Can you get the same warm and fuzzy feeling walking in Sand Hills that you do in Summerville? Do we share the same sense of affluence as Surrey Center? Sand Hills, historically, has faced a serious disconnect. And while race always has played a part (this is Augusta, after all), economics is the biggest factor. There is no investment in Sand Hills. We're not part of the Sustainability Agenda for Augusta. We don't have a Kroc Center or a Fuller Center for Housing, both in Harrisburg. Our community development has been dormant and questionable at best.
With our proximity to the Augusta National Golf Club, we should serve as a proud gateway to the prestigious tournament, not as a community that people fear as they drive through. There needs to be economic stimulus brought to Sand Hills. We need to recapture the pride that our community once had.
Originally, our neighborhood was named after Porter Fleming's daughter Elizabeth. Elizabethtown had a rich and distinguished history. Sand Hills needs to recapture that pride. We must bring sustainable economic development to our neighborhood.
It's bigger than the fried chicken place. It's about living in a place in which all Augustans can take pride.