Augustans are still owed explanations surrounding Hyde Park

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I do not feel we need to proceed with the Hyde Park project as proposed, and I am not alone.

Area residents may remember that last October, the Augusta Commission voted to spend $2.3 million to acquire property in the Hyde Park residential neighborhood, and to begin designing a massive detention pond to occupy the site.

Citizens and Hyde Park residents are owed the following:

• an actual copy of the environmental impact study. My research has shown that pollution of stormwater ponds has potential for toxic effects on amphibian embryos and larvae. Amphibians use stormwater basins for breeding and subsequent larval growth. If pond-breeding amphibians are attracted to retention/detention ponds – only to have eggs and larvae die from pollutants from runoff during and following rain events – these habitats may act as ecological traps for pond-breeding amphibians.

• a copy of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division or federal Environmental Protection Agency application, approval and the permit.

• a copy of any feasibility studies. Our local government is notorious for commissioning studies that are skewed in one direction or another, and they have a reputation of not following the guidelines of feasibility studies. Remember the drag strip study? It was loaded with phony projections and inaccurate information. The list goes on.

• a copy of Augusta Commissioner Corey Johnson’s petition to see this project move forward, so it can be cross-referenced with property owners;

• a record of property sales within the past seven to eight years.

THERE ALSO ARE several unanswered questions:

• A detention pond is designed to slow water flow, and should be placed further upstream of the water flow. What other sites were investigated? Let’s see the documentation of why they were eliminated.

• Where is the money coming from to fund the initial phase of this project?

• Where is the money coming from to finalize the project? If our government is planning on using future special-purpose local option sales tax dollars to fund this project, what if SPLOST doesn’t pass?

• Where is the financial forecast and proposed total cost? The number I have heard is $18 million.

• Why has this project been put on the fast track when we have so many other SPLOST projects that are incomplete?

• What are the rules of relocating? Do you get the appraised value of your property or just a lump-sum settlement? Moving expenses? Are you subject to higher property tax rates?

• How do we identify and handle conflicts of interest where people could have used their influence to push this project through?

• If these houses are vacant and available in the Bethlehem and Laney-Walker areas, why should Hyde Park residents relocate where no one else wants to live either? Who benefits from the sales of these homes when the city buys them? Not taxpayers.

I OFFER SOME commonsense solutions:

• The city of Augusta paved many ditches in Hyde Park. However, many of the residents will rake their leaves into these ditches, causing them to clog, thus holding water. Many ditches have become just plain old trash dumps, again causing the stoppage of water flow.

Replace ditches with concrete pipe. Build culverts with grates. This is a lot less expensive than $18 million.

• To assist in drainage of Hyde Park, the city installed drainage pipes underneath the railroad tracks. This helped tremendously, but residents complained that they needed more and possibly bigger pipes. Add more and possibly bigger pipes under the railroad.

• According to officials from Phinizy Swamp, they have no issues with the stormwater runoff going directly into the swamp. Why not direct runoff into the swamp?

These solutions should be explored before we destroy Hyde Park. The residents who have come to me are proud of their homes and do not want to relocate. Several of these homes were built with money provided by the G.I. Bill after World War II. Some were built by hand one brick at a time. Many men worked at the local Merry Brothers Brick & Tile Co., and were given bricks and concrete blocks, mostly seconds, to build their homes.

Residents have fond memories as children helping clear the land and help their parents with construction. There is not another community in our area that has the distinction of this type of dedication to family.

If you agree with this, pass it on and have a call for action. Contact your representative!

(The writer is a businessman and community activist.)

Comments (13) Add comment
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copperhead
1035
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copperhead 02/19/12 - 06:28 am
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Quityerbellyachin and pay

Quityerbellyachin and pay your taxes! The government knows what is best for us all. They are on our side and here to help. Viva la government!

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 02/19/12 - 07:17 am
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Do you ever have anything

Do you ever have anything constructive to say copperhead? I swear 99% of your posts read pretty much the same.

wondersnevercease
9218
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wondersnevercease 02/19/12 - 07:52 am
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ahh copperhead..it takes away
Unpublished

ahh copperhead..it takes away so much when you have to explain ;)

david jennings
601
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david jennings 02/19/12 - 08:24 am
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What's not constructive about

What's not constructive about copperhead' post? Make as much sense as the rest of us on here.

avidreader
3222
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avidreader 02/19/12 - 09:13 am
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Copperhead always provides a

Copperhead always provides a bit of morning humor. It doesn't bother me at all. I often use his comments as examples for my students -- verbal irony (a euphemism for sarcasm).

AND Woody, it's nice to have you back in the saddle again. No matter how whacky some people think you are, I always enjoyed knowing you were out there ruffling feathers. I hope you will permanantly return to the Woody-of-yesterdays. You've got my support.

allhans
23651
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allhans 02/19/12 - 09:18 pm
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Me too, Woody. I often

Me too, Woody. I often wonder if you are one of our posters.
See you on around the 'hood. (ours)

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 02/19/12 - 11:58 am
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avidreader,my posts are NOT

avidreader,my posts are NOT meant to bother you!

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 02/19/12 - 02:19 pm
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Woody Merry is a treasure to

Woody Merry is a treasure to our community....yep...there I said it. He deserves respect not ridicule.

proud2bamerican
441
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proud2bamerican 02/19/12 - 03:54 pm
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Thank you Woody! I appreciate

Thank you Woody! I appreciate your effort to stay on track with the facts and THEN share your opinion. I really hope that many will take action based on the facts you shared and your suggestions!

proud2bamerican
441
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proud2bamerican 02/19/12 - 03:59 pm
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Thank God I have enough sense

Thank God I have enough sense and determination not to depend on my government to "know what is best" for me. The government in the US was never intended to be a nanny state but to uphold the laws...that's all.

Little Lamb
46022
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Little Lamb 02/20/12 - 08:34 am
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I, too, appreciate Woody

I, too, appreciate Woody Merry's column here. He asks questions that should be addressed by city management. The main problem with Hyde Park is not pollution. It is the greed of a few loud-mouthed property owners (most of them landlords). Just by acting like hot-heads at community meetings, they cowed the Commission into coming up with this cockamamie solution to build a stormwater basin there.

Think about this. You are renting a home in a subdivision. The government wants to build an interstate highway right though the subdivision. Well, the government deals with the landlord and buys his property. The landlord gives you ninety days notice to find another place to live because demolition is beginning. What do you do? You go looking for rental houses or apartments.

But what happens in Hyde Park? City taxpayers give a "relocation allowance" to the renters. Where did this notion come from that Hyde Park renters are special compared to ordinary renters?

Woody's question about the appraisals is a good one, also. You can see from the city's on-line property tax listings that most of these properties are appraised at about $15,000 to $20,000. But in this relocation land grab, property owners will be given much more. Why not? The ones handing out the cash are using other peoples' money (namely, Augusta taxpayers). The sky is the limit.

Little Lamb
46022
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Little Lamb 02/20/12 - 08:37 am
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And let us not forget this

And let us not forget this one uncomfortable fact: extensive environmental testing has been done in Hyde Park – testing of air, soil and water. No contamination levels have been found that would require or even suggest evacuation or relocation. This whole project is just some landlords seeking a government bail-out for their retirement.

Riverman1
84045
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Riverman1 02/20/12 - 08:42 am
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LL, you and Woody are so

LL, you and Woody are so right. This whole idea we have to give new houses to people who lived in rundown houses is ridiculous. You can come up with almost any reason these days to get money from the government.

What about SRS workers filing claims for the stress of working out there? Silly Putty time in America.

Riverman1
84045
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Riverman1 02/20/12 - 08:44 am
0
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Remember a few years ago when

Remember a few years ago when all this started popping up on the radar and the woman in Wash. DC, the federal bureaucrat, started to buy up houses in Hyde Park?

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