I was born and raised in south Augusta, off Richmond Hill Road — a great place to grow up in the 1960s, ‘70’s and ‘80s.
When the Regency Mall opened it was a huge deal, and we were so proud and grateful to have it there. I could just about throw a rock and hit it from my house. But, as we all know, south Augusta changed — in a bad, bad way. Crime levels increased so much that many people, including myself, moved to Columbia County to get away. Stores at the mall began closing because of the ever-increasing crime rate and subsequent decline in customers. No one felt safe going there any more, and of course the inevitable happened: The mall closed.
About a year or so ago I moved to Jacksonville, Fla., but I continue to read The Augusta Chronicle online every day. Lately I have been reading the most idiotic articles about the Augusta Commission and most of all the mayor wanting to build the new arena on the Regency Mall property in south Augusta.
My very first thought was: Are they crazy?
They want to build it on the very site that failed because of high crime rates and total lack of safety? Nothing in that area has changed, crime-wise, since the mall closed its doors. No one from Columbia County, North Augusta or Aiken will drive into that area at night to see any kind of event.
They are going to have a $110 million failure. And if they think an arena built there would revitalize south Augusta, they are, again, crazy! What they should build on that site is a huge police station, and try to save south Augusta by stopping the insane amount of crime.
I’m praying someone in my hometown makes these people come to their senses before it’s too late.