Originally created 01/26/00

Repairs to park reach $63,299



The city of Augusta financed 103 truckloads of dirt and rock used to stabilize eroding shorelines at Lock and Dam Park after the Army Corps of Engineers lowered the Savannah River last week.

The cost of salvage and emergency repairs was $63,299, which doesn't include replacement of picnic shelters, trees and parking areas that were destroyed, Recreation and Parks Director Tom Beck said.

The river drawdown was an experiment to enable the Corps to gather data for a study on decommissioning the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam. As water levels fell Jan. 17, shorelines began to collapse.

The worst damage was at 50-acre Lock and Dam Park adjacent to the 63-year-old lock and dam. The park is owned by the Corps and leased to the city for a recreation area, Mr. Beck said.

Damages included the loss of seven picnic shelters that tumbled into the river, a damaged courtesy dock, the collapse of 20 feet of boat ramp and the loss of 10 asphalt parking spaces swallowed by the river.

The city intends to bill the Corps for the repairs, Mr. Beck said. City officials commenced repairs because there was an immediacy to begin stabilization work before the river was refilled to normal levels.

"We felt like we had to get in there and do it, before the water came back up and caused more damage," he said. "The Corps agreed with us, verbally, anyway."

City contractors plucked picnic shelters from the river and hauled in 23 dump-truck loads of rock and 80 dump-truck loads of dirt to fill and stabilize the eroding shoreline.

According to a memo Mr. Beck delivered Tuesday to the Augusta Commission's Public Services Committee, that work cost $63,299. Estimates for replacing damaged or destroyed property will be available in 30 days.

Corps spokesman Jim Parker said he could not comment on whether the Corps will pay the bill because the city has not submitted a formal request for payment. However, he said, the Corps is willing to discuss the issue.

Mr. Beck said the Corps' district engineer, Col. Joe Schmitt, instructed Ken Dial, the Corps' local resource manager, to work with city officials in arranging a suitable agreement on paying for repairs.

That discussion, Mr. Beck said, occurred Thursday night during a public meeting where about 600 people turned out to oppose closing the lock and dam and to complain about damage caused by the experimental drawdown.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119.