Develop river area further

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The city of Augusta is about to make another ill-considered and expensive mistake regarding Riverwalk, triggered by the recent attack that injured two people.

The reason for the attack is that Riverwalk has few people using what amounts to an urban park. The area is mostly deserted, particularly at night, because there is no real life down by the river – no restaurants, shops or other activities – and as a result it is attractive to criminals who can prey upon the few people foolish enough to walk down there at night.

A similar situation was solved in New York City when its nine-acre Bryant Park in midtown fell into disrepair and became a haven for the homeless, drug dealers, etc. A private-public corporation was formed that oversaw the restoration and improvement of the park. While owned by the city, it was run by the corporation.

Whereas previously there were only a few homeless pushing shopping carts in the nine acres, now the park was filled with thousands of people enjoying wifi and shopping at many shops, including Starbucks, and crime has now almost disappeared because of the large numbers of people filling the park. The city now is enjoying tax receipts from the many private businesses that have moved there.

As I have noted in previous letters and guest columns, the unnecessary levee that cuts us off from our beautiful river – supposedly to protect us from a flood that never will happen – is preventing economic development of our most important property in the entire CSRA: the enormous amount of land between Reynolds Street and the river from Fifth to 13th streets – land which, if developed, would provide a huge tax base, curtail crime, encourage tourism and be a benefit to the Augusta citizens. U.S. Geological Survey data clearly show the river never is going to flood higher than the base of the existing levee, if even that high.

Please encourage the mayor and Augusta Commission to look into this idea. Let’s turn this expensive mistake into a win-win for all concerned.

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countyman
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countyman 05/14/13 - 12:37 am
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1 crime in 16 months at the Riverwalk

The Candlelight Jazz Series is held every Sunday night, and the recent crime was the first one reported at the Riverwalk in an 16 month period.

I do agree when need to develop the waterfront, but the people who use the Riverwalk at night aren't foolish..

agustinian
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agustinian 05/14/13 - 05:54 am
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Take the Stadium -- Please

I know, why don't you build a baseball stadium down there --- please! Apparently, you already have bats in that area and people willing to swing them, all you need now is a stadium, and you're good to go.

...point to ponder
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...point to ponder 05/14/13 - 07:33 am
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I agrre...

To taking the levee down and opening up the river access.
There would be an immediate breath of fresh air, so to speak, allowing the full view of the Savannah River.

Without risks of horrible flooding, the city should move in this direction.

allhans
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allhans 05/14/13 - 08:45 am
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The way to go...do it!

The way to go...do it!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 08:55 am
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I got bumper stickers from

I got bumper stickers from Sissy Albert and put them on my vehicles. They said, "Mr. Copenhaver, Tear Down This Levee."

deestafford
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deestafford 05/14/13 - 09:15 am
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How high did the water come up in the Oct 90 flooding?

If that did not rise high enough to cause a problem, then the levee could come down with no potential harm. It is an impediment to a thriving water front.

David Parker
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David Parker 05/14/13 - 09:39 am
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Be very careful. The levee

Be very careful. The levee is an aesthetic impediment but one calculation mistake and Joe's can change the name to Joe's Underwater Cafe. Just be meticulous in the survey and be sure there is NO potential for breaching the normal elevation/piedmont.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 05/14/13 - 10:41 am
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Don't forget the earthquakes at the dam?

Unpublished

The flood of 1990 was not a breach of the dam. The dam that holds back a 150 ft wall of water. 300 foot elevation running downstream to a 125 foot elevation.

dichotomy
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dichotomy 05/14/13 - 10:42 am
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"Be very careful." I agree

"Be very careful."

I agree David Parker. I don't know how far down they would cut it but I've seen the water up to the lower level sidewalks and completely over those "overlooks" that jut out in the river. I don't remember the exact year but I believe it was early 2000s because Fort Discovery was there. I don't know how high it got in the early '90s.

And how would they handle places like Discovery Plaza, the church at 6th and Reynolds, and the Marriott where the buildings actually incorporate the levy into their design? Would they leave those portions? Sounds like BIG bucks out of somebody's pocket. Wonder who's pocket South Augusta? Don't worry....you're getting a Walgreens.... and a Five Guys...maybe.

They had a grand plan to develop the riverfront. It was called Riverwalk. It failed miserably. I'm not sure I can afford another plan to make riverfront property owners, all 3 or 4 of them, rich. If they want to tear down the levy and develop the property..ALL WITH PRIVATE MONEY....fine.

I'd live to see a vibrant riverfront too. I'm just not sure I can afford to keep paying for massive FAILED GOVERNMENT PROJECTS AND STUDIES while waiting for my Five Guys Burgers and Fries, smelling my week old rotting garbage while waiting for my 100% overcharged garbage man to show up, and saving up to pay my coming RAIN TAX and inevitable falsely manipulated property tax increase that will be coming out of the "equalization". We all know that no matter how they "equalize", somebody has to subsidize the "old city" residential property owners whose properties are not "equally" valued high enough to even pay for their garbage and fire service. After all, that was the entire point of Consolidation.

Riverman1
70955
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 11:21 am
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I drove to work downtown

I drove to work downtown during the flood of 1990. Cars were COMPLETELY underwater in the University Hosp. parking lot. But that water was not coming from the river. It came from rain into the city and the canal. It was called a fishbowl effect with the levee actually holding the water in the city. There's no doubt the river did come up some. With that in mind, I'd cut the levee to about 4 ft. The N. Augusta side has no levee. Clarks Hill Dam was built to prevent flooding in Augusta and it works very well...thank you very much.

What do you do with buildings currently on the levee? Leave those areas alone naturally.

countyman
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countyman 05/14/13 - 12:01 pm
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Dichotomy... The Riverwalk is

Dichotomy... The Riverwalk is the #1 tourist attraction in the CSRA, and the Walgreens development includes 3 additional acres.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 12:17 pm
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I thought the Augusta

I thought the Augusta National was the number one tourist attraction in the CSRA? I would pick the Aiken horse activities as the second. Savannah Rapids Pavilion has lots more people there most days than anything I've ever seen on the Riverwalk.

David Parker
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David Parker 05/14/13 - 01:23 pm
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It's under-utilized is all I

It's under-utilized is all I get from things. It's a huge developement that alot of money went into and what really goes on down there?

People take walks
At times there are events at the JN Amphitheatre

With regard to people walking, they are far and few between b/c if you live in the area, you've been down there and seen about everything there is. The majority of folks would have to drive-in to take that walk b/c they don't live within walking distance.

That amphitheatre is empty 6 out of 7 days a week. Sometimes more.

Lowering the levee is an idea, but Riverwalk needs activity for other folks to gravitate there. It really needs some type of water event that incorporates the city as well. Something big that will fill up the bars/restaurants in the CBD, but also capture attention at the Riverwalk. The rowing regatta, water-ski tour, fishing tourney, etc. something needs to be identified and then promoted correctly to build up hype and get some traction. Combine multiple events to make it grander if needed.

From the private sector, someone needs to developing a stand of commercial establishments along the levee once it is lowered, if it is lowered. If it stays at it's current height, maybe just build some small kiosks for vendors and the like. Without knowing ownership of every lot, it's hard to throw ideas into the hat. If the property owners (I think there are like 2) can build adjacent to the levee, they would want to build at a height so that folks on top of the levee can enter the operation from that level and still have the river in view. Once they come down off the levee, they are no longer in river-mode and since there isn't much draw for them to return to the other side of the levee, they're basically done and looking for their car to get out of there.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/14/13 - 01:27 pm
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@ pointtoponder

"There would be an immediate breath of fresh air, so to speak, allowing the full view of the Savannah River."

You do not need to tear down the levee to get a full view of the Savannah River. Just go up on top of the levee and you've got a magnificent view. Or go down to Jesse Norman Amphitheater — another full view of the Savannah River. Or step outside of the Morris Museum of Art — another beautiful view. There are almost an infinite number of points to stand where you can see the river with the levee in place. That levee is not hurting a thing. It is part of Augusta's history. Augusta has already torn down many, many, many historic structures, to its shame.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/14/13 - 01:33 pm
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Data

Countyman asserted:

The Riverwalk is the #1 tourist attraction in the CSRA.

You need to provide the data or the source of this outlandish assertion.

And if your assertion is true, then Augusta is really one pathetic place. We know that Augusta is not a pathetic place, so your assertion must therefore be false.

countyman
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countyman 05/14/13 - 02:07 pm
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Ask the tourist?

The Augusta National is not the real definition of 'local attraction', because it's a golf event held for one week. If they had some type of museum, hotels, masters theme restaurant, etc across the street then it would be different.

I don't even have to bring up the normal days where the visitors at the Marriotts/TEE Center, and local citizens use the Riverwalk. I can mention the ESI Ironman, Southern Nationals, weekly Saturday Market, Regetta, weekly Candlelight Jazz Series, etc.

Horse activities can really mean anything, and that's not one single attraction. There's no point in responding to comparing the Savannah Rapid Pavillion vs the Riverwalk..

Little Lamb... What do the 1.5 million people in Augusta do while visiting? Let me guess you believe Riverman how they drive from Richmond County to access the horse acitives in Aiken County or use the Savannah Rapids Pavillion in Columbia County.

countyman
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countyman 05/14/13 - 02:14 pm
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Riverwalk

This is a normal weekly Saturday Market on the River...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uR6Rxl3x8Y

This is a regular Candle Light Jazz every Sunday. You can fast forward to 2:30 to see the amount of people in the crowd.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfDfWp248Fc

I think some people need to come downtown more often, because more is going on than you expect..

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 02:19 pm
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The National may not own

The National may not own hotels, but you have to understand the Masters does bring guests to hotels. I see you mention events on the river as if they depend on the Riverwalk which they don't. They depend on the river. The Southern Nationals has been coming here since 1985 and their parties and meetings are in the Boathouse.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 02:29 pm
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Excluding the business

Excluding the business visitors to Augusta, I certainly think they come here for the Masters, golf all over, polo and riding in Aiken, year round sports, lake and river in Columbia County. If you don't get that you don't understand the history of Augusta. We use to be one of the biggest resorts in the nation with the fabulous Bon Air. Do you seriously believe people plan vacations to come walk on the Riverwalk? When is the last time you've been to the Savannah Rapids Pavilion? It's always full with concerts and booked every weekend for events.

countyman
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countyman 05/14/13 - 02:53 pm
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Riverwalk

Columbia County is not in the same atmosphere in terms of attracting tourist compared to Richmond. Even Aiken County with the multiple equestrian events in Aiken don't compare.

Who said the events depended on the Riverwalk? I was only showing two weekly events held on the Riverwalk.

Do you really believe people plan vacations to use the Savannah Rapids Pavillion? I went to the Savannah Rapids Pavilion in March, and it's not on the level of the Riveralk in terms of local 'attraction'. The Southern National each year is around 20k to 30k visitors on the Riverwalk.

Over 1.5 million people visit Richmond County each year. If they decide to make a day trip or stay in Augusta for a few days. Their going to use the Riverwalk before they leave more than likely. Those 1.5 million people are not going to ride horses in Aiken or access the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

I do think if Columbia/Lincoln/Mccormick work together and marketing the lake better. Some of the people visiting Richmond County would travel to the lake more often. The equestrian events in Aiken are more of an niche market, and those people are already specifically going to Aiken.

Riverman1
70955
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 03:03 pm
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Here's how I look at it. The

Here's how I look at it. The wealthiest people in the world come to Aiken and Augusta. I think we both agree with that and we both know what they do. It ain't Riverwalk.

countyman
16900
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countyman 05/14/13 - 03:39 pm
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Two different events

How can you put the Masters and the Aiken Triple crown in the same category?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 03:54 pm
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How do you make up these

How do you make up these questions about things I never said? Goodness, a few posts up I was trying to convince you of the value of the Masters on the area. But I'm not limiting the Aiken horse things to the Triple Crown. New Bridge Polo has people from all over the world visiting about half the year. The Gold Cup is played there at times. People have been coming to Aiken for the polo and riding (and hunting) for over a hundred years.

grinder48
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grinder48 05/14/13 - 04:08 pm
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Richmond Summit

Unpublished

I was downtown Saturday evening for a wedding reception. Felt creepy with the Richmond Summit residents around. I'm sorry, I know they need a place to live and should be dealt with properly and with dignity. But I feel strongly that the CBD will never develop as it should as long as the Richmond Summit is in use as Section 8 housing. Generally speaking, more affluent people with money to spend don't feel comfortable or safe in the area, so they'll stay away.

David Parker
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David Parker 05/14/13 - 04:14 pm
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I think what Rman is getting

I think what Rman is getting at Cman is just keep it real. We all want the area to succeed. I hear daily how Augusta is so pitiful and lame. I get tired of it but I press onward and hope things turn around. I've lived here and didn't leave like 99% of the people I grew up with and I'll probably die here whether things change or not. I mention it b/c like myself, there are plenty of people who are interested in this place living up to its billing.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 07:22 pm
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DParker, says it well. We are

DParker, says it well. We are all pulling for Augusta and the CSRA. Remember how much I talked about the future of Augusta being linked to the college being able to spread over the city with dorms and so on? Well lo and behold, it COULD happen in a way I never imagined with the mills, but I'll take it because that would be such a large project. I will point out that keeping with my thesis of the college helping the city the most, it may be best if the colleges just spread out over town without trying to keep a contiguous campus. That's how the College of Charleston did it. That plan improves the whole area tremendously.

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 05/14/13 - 08:14 pm
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How can anyone compare the

How can anyone compare the Riverwalk to The Augusta National or The Aiken Triple Crowne?

KSL
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KSL 05/14/13 - 09:20 pm
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Countyman

Sometimes I work downtown looking out a "storefront window." I can easily spot tourists. They walk the downtown streets. There is a huge spillover from Augusta during the Masters, but the tourism is pretty much year round.

KSL
106415
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KSL 05/14/13 - 09:21 pm
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Good question!

Good question!

KSL
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KSL 05/14/13 - 09:34 pm
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Countyman mentioned that

Countyman mentioned that Augusta would be the next Raleigh. I told that to my husband. He immediately blurted out, Augusta is going to become the Capital of Georgia?

Then we began to try to figure out which 3 cities/ areas would be the research center's points. Now Aiken and SRS is a given. And Aiken does have a university, as does Augusta. It was the third one that was hard to figure.

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