I have been living in Augusta for almost a year, so granted I am new to the scene, but every day something in this paper catches my eye and makes me shake my head in embarrassment. Today (May 2) it was the article concerning the possible destruction of the DeLaigle house (the soon-to-be vacant district attorney's office) on Greene Street.
The ingenious plan hatched by city officials (who, amazingly, get paid to make these decisions) is to tear down the DeLaigle house (built in 1873) and erect a parking lot in its place. Obviously our men and women in charge are not familiar with words such as "renovation," "aesthetics," "charm," or "beauty."
This 129-year-old piece of history could be renovated and preserved for the price of $200,000 to $300,000, but more importantly could act as a catalyst for increased consciousness for not only preservation in the city but for increased downtown revitalization.
Across the South, in towns and cities much the same as this one, the word "downtown" brings to mind the splendor of old plantation-style homes, rustic city squares with moss-draped oaks, beautiful gardens, and fountains that just beg you to sit by them.
But for Augusta, a town in constant search of an identity, I suppose people will think "ample parking." City commissioners bicker endlessly about bar hours downtown, enterprise zones downtown, and how to increase commercial success downtown. Hasn't it ever occurred to them that a crucial factor in all of these things is to make downtown aesthetically pleasing?
Downtown should be a place you take your kids just to walk and to take in the scenery and architecture. Here in Augusta that is just not the case. Here, historic homes are plowed under so lazy commissioners won't have to walk an extra block to get to their meetings. Here, candy canes and reindeers still adorn our light fixtures months after Santa has come and gone, making the city streets a joke to every out-of-towner who lays eyes on them. Here, instead of restaurants, bars, and stores, we have condemned buildings, dark streets, and vacant lots.
Augusta needs to decide what it wants to be ...
Tim Kelly, Augusta