The absence of law enforcement, even during the day, is alarming. I see this often, on weekends especially. My family, friends and I would not be caught downtown after dark. A cop on a bicycle is hardly a deterrent. It is almost like law enforcement leadership in Richmond County has surrendered to the bad elements.
Overflowing trash cans and the stench of decaying buildings are almost overwhelming. Sidewalks and streets are in disrepair. Below-street-level parking areas are havens for criminals to prey on the unsuspecting. Also, certain people who are attracted to the city
defiantly urinate or defecate in public places without being challenged, arrested or run out of town.
Downtown Augusta is nowhere near being “cool,” as Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz seeks. This often-criticized man has a vision for what Augusta should be, befitting a major teaching hospital. If Augusta cannot be made “cool,” then “cool” will be found elsewhere. There is no guarantee that this prestigious teaching hospital will remain in Augusta in its current form.
Moreover, the historically racially divided Augusta Commission and bad policing will certainly erode, if it has not already, the image and prosperity of this city. Sadly, events such as the gay pride parade are ill-advised, too.
It is not the job of downtown proprietors to do anything but provide services, whether in a restaurant or a shop. They already pay enough taxes, I imagine, to count on this. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office’s job is to protect everyone, all day long, no matter what. Further, the commission’s job is the same. Otherwise, downtown will be only a place of vagrants, seedy bars, tattoo parlors and strip joints – in general, a cesspool. Criminals will reign the day.
Clean it up – or “cool” will be sought elsewhere.