Few naysayers at canal forum

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About 50 people turned out for Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek's first town hall meeting on his proposal to build a canal in downtown Augusta, and many who spoke were enthusiastic.

"So what we have here is a win-win situation," Michael "Flippa" Griffin said.

Brad Owens called Mr. Cheek's "Ellis Street Option," which would divert water from the Augusta Canal down Ellis Street from 12th Street to Sixth Street, "an amazing plan."

"This is the type of progressive, forward thinking that Augusta hasn't had in two generations," he said, but he warned there will be many naysayers.

"Now there's so many people out there that are going to tell us why we can't do this, why we shouldn't do it, why it can't be done, why it's pie in the sky. You'll hear things like 'crazy' thrown around," he said.

Mr. Cheek, Mr. Griffin and Mr. Owens stressed the need for Augusta to increase its eroding tax base.

"When the new centers opened up in Columbia County, they took our retail sales-tax base away from Augusta," Mr. Griffin said. "Well, if you don't have retail sales tax coming in, guess who's going to have to pay the bill? Property owners. ... I don't want any new property taxes, which is why I'm so in favor of this. This will bring in more retail sales tax than any idea I've seen in a long time."

Mr. Owens said it is a shame Mr. Cheek will be leaving office at the end of the year, when his second four-year term expires, because such a project takes an engine pushing it to get it going.

Several of the people who spoke at the forum at Bernie Ward Community Center asked about cost and completion time.

"How much will it cost to develop this project, and how long will it take?" Ban Hassan asked.

Mr. Cheek estimated it would take a year to do the studies and then it would depend on how voters wanted to finance the two-mile, concrete-lined, 5-foot-deep canal. He said Oklahoma City built its canal in about five years.

"We could do it sooner if we put our hearts in it," Mr. Cheek said.

He said the cost would be between $24 million and $45 million.

Juanita Burney asked whether the city owns the necessary property or whether it would have to buy right of way.

"We own the right of way," Mr. Cheek said. "We own the water. The canal is in place. We have to figure out a way to pay for it."

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT:

A second town hall meeting on the "Ellis Street Option" will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Warren Road Community Center, 300 Warren Road.

Comments (28) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 08/29/07 - 04:20 am
0
0
I appreciate that Augusta is

I appreciate that Augusta is considering a number or ways to get past the "large town" status that it's been stuck in for these many years. The ball park, convention center, and canal are all good ideas, but the best and most rapidly productive idea would be a new city charter that gives the mayor a vote and/or veto and gives the mayor and commissioners specific guidelines of responsibility and accountability.

Tim Walters
1
Points
Tim Walters 08/29/07 - 04:54 am
0
0
andy cheek you need to quit

andy cheek you need to quit smokin that herb

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 08/29/07 - 08:02 am
0
0
LOL, Andy has 4 months left,

LOL, Andy has 4 months left, GLORY... so does Marion HALLELUJAH....

butterflygina
145
Points
butterflygina 08/29/07 - 08:05 am
0
0
I hope the commission doesn't

I hope the commission doesn't vote on this idea. It is a joke! Spend our money on something else, there's plenty we need other than another area with high priced shops and restaurants.

JFJ
0
Points
JFJ 08/29/07 - 08:19 am
0
0
This is a GREAT idea. The

This is a GREAT idea. The downtown area needs something to draw business and tourism. Besides the riverwalk there's really nothing else to see there.

Spackler
0
Points
Spackler 08/29/07 - 08:30 am
0
0
The idea of having more

The idea of having more waterfront is a good idea. But instead of jumping in with both feet and make major changes on the local infrastructure, why not test the idea on a strip of the existing canal. For example, look into the area between Sibley Mill and 13th street. That is an area that could be frequented by the canal towpath visitors for starters. If it works out, then expand on the project.

gehjgh
0
Points
gehjgh 08/29/07 - 09:03 am
0
0
This is a great idea. I have

This is a great idea. I have been to the one in Texas.

bigalsc
4
Points
bigalsc 08/29/07 - 09:26 am
0
0
Since we already have an

Since we already have an underutilized waterfront feature, the Canal, why don't we go back to that excellent idea Mr Cheeks proposed earlier with the Waterpark and let the development happen along underdeveloped Telfair and Fenwick Streets..Over time. Ellis street will be needed as an access for shopping and parking along Broad and Greene Streets. Capitalize on the Historic Features of the Central Business District instead of forever compromising them!

Farful
7
Points
Farful 08/29/07 - 10:52 am
0
0
totally and completely

totally and completely ridiculous

Painter
24
Points
Painter 08/29/07 - 11:18 am
0
0
I agree with bigalsc!!

I agree with bigalsc!!

Venus
0
Points
Venus 08/29/07 - 11:39 am
0
0
We can tell who has never

We can tell who has never left the city or the state! I saw the one in Oklahoma City and it was really nice. Keep in mind Oklahoma City is not busting at the seams and has very little to offer. But if you never leave the city or state to see what others are doing you will always be left in the dark! It's time and I think it would be nice to have more white linen resturants and entertainment here. It can be done! So all the folks out there that want to keep Augusta in the stone age get a life! All aboard the Augusta Progress train we will be pulling out of the station with you or without you! You make the choice!

dragonflygirl
0
Points
dragonflygirl 08/29/07 - 12:26 pm
0
0
I just wonder if the canal is

I just wonder if the canal is worth the millions it is going to cost Richmond County Taxpayers. Look at history with the past failures of Port Royal at the Riverwalk that was to be a boost the economy and bring upscaling shopping and the Golf and Garden Hall of Fame that is sitting on the riverfront drying up.

We need to work on our education system which would keep people from fleeing from Richmond County placing a larger tax burden on the ones left in the county.

RonRoberts
63
Points
RonRoberts 08/29/07 - 12:35 pm
0
0
Dragonflygirl, I have to

Dragonflygirl, I have to disagree with you. The Riverwalk HAS been good for the city; "Port Royal" didn't take off as a mall/condo/hotel project, but in its current incarnation, it works. The hotels DID later come to downtown, and now a few more pieces are missing - a viable large-scale convention/trade/meeting space NEAR those hotels and the Riverwalk (the proposed TEE center), a constant draw (the minor league baseball stadium, and Cheek's canal extension). Folks tend to dwell on things that don't work, but fail to mention those that DO. Riverwalk HAS been a positive, as has the Commons. And despite the shortsidedness of the elitist morons who pushed the Golf Gardens down our throats, the hotels are doing good business, and downtown business has been revived. Give downtown the proposed baseball stadium and push this canal idea through, and downtown Augusta will FINALLY have a uniqueness that nearby destinations like Savannah and Charleston already have to draw visitors. The current canal path is uninteresting. Let's be honest.

johnsmith
9
Points
johnsmith 08/29/07 - 12:46 pm
0
0
I don't know how well or

I don't know how well or poorly Mr. Cheek has carried out his duties as a commissioner. Some of you say that he has been terrible. For all I know, you may be right. However, even if that were true, even a blind pig finds the occasional acorn. This is an outstanding idea, much better than all that mess about moving the ballpark. Also likely cheaper than all the ridiculousness at the airport, but yet would likely result in just the kind of increased traffic that would result in the lower fares, etc., that we were supposed to be trying to get...

jdcooper
0
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jdcooper 08/29/07 - 12:52 pm
0
0
All I have to say is....

All I have to say is.... re-read RonRoberts' comment above... I agree with him 100%. I live in Evans and may have a move coming up in the near future-- if these plans start to take off I may decide to move somewhere close to downtown.

vermint
537
Points
vermint 08/29/07 - 01:33 pm
0
0
What about those of us with

What about those of us with businesses on Broad Street, but the only available parking for employees is parking lots only accessible from Ellis St.? Or those whose businesses front on Ellis, and their only access is from Ellis?

jungletobacco
0
Points
jungletobacco 08/29/07 - 01:53 pm
0
0
We are talking about a multi

We are talking about a multi million dollar project that is going to change not only the CSRA but all of Georgia. Vermint why are you talking about parking? People in Augusta will do anything to keep Augusta a piece of crap, why? I dont know.

Captain Awesome
0
Points
Captain Awesome 08/29/07 - 02:56 pm
0
0
This is a great idea. This

This is a great idea. This is much better than the golf hall of fame garden. Augusta is lucky in that building here is cheaper because relative location to materials and better seasons. It's a deal that I wouldn't mind putting my tax dollars toward. If people are just going to nay without any ideas put forth Augusta will devolve into a boring run down suburb for Columbia county. We have some cool stuff here and a lot of potential. And it's not even as if we're the first one to do this. Oklahoma and San Antonio are reaping the benefits. Does anybody know of a city that did this and then went under because the money should have gone to something else? Really, sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

HITME
0
Points
HITME 08/29/07 - 03:53 pm
0
0
a question has been raised.

a question has been raised. how do you access the rear of broad street properties if a canal blocks your path?

SnidleyWhiplash
2
Points
SnidleyWhiplash 08/29/07 - 04:25 pm
0
0
Um, from Broad street

Um, from Broad street perhaps? And if you look at the rendering, there will be walkways along the Ellis Canal, which would provide access to foot traffic.

Brad Owens
4097
Points
Brad Owens 08/29/07 - 08:06 pm
0
0
It is a great idea. I hope

It is a great idea. I hope that the leadership listens to the people on this one. I haven't heard this level of excitement about anything in a long time. Andy is pretty damn smart.

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
Points
BakersfieldCityLimits 08/29/07 - 10:15 pm
0
0
Another boondogel cooked up

Another boondogel cooked up by the white power structure to benifit themselves. I say until our seniors are provided with safe public housing with a/c then we keep the water project on the shelf.

Darin J.
0
Points
Darin J. 08/29/07 - 10:43 pm
0
0
This is what the city

This is what the city needs...THIS IS WHAT THE CITY NEEDS! Those against this idea doesn't have the vision in mind. A vision is not necessarily a "dream". It's something feasible if there is heart and love for what you want to improve. Simply put, Andy Cheeks has love for the canal and love for Augusta, and those who support it have love for their city because they want it to improve. All the ones who are against it are just gonna go home, sit down and shut up. Why give support to anything when they find it easier to go home sit down and shut up. That attitude needs to change. I've been here for 28 years and all I've ever seen is how Augustans constantly put a project down until it's a thing of the past, and for no good reason. I've had an Idea for an amusement park in the highway 56 area in '98, Bob Young said "no one would support it" yeah right, then he walked off the job. I've had an idea to bring IMAX to the Miller theater, skyscrapers downtown, "a real financial district" and no one hears me. Well you will see me if the Lord is willing, at that Town meeting tomorrow because Augusta needs this.

wendyjune
0
Points
wendyjune 08/29/07 - 10:48 pm
0
0
How many projects must the

How many projects must the commissioners "vote" on that fail? How long before something is done about the existing businesses that are struggling to succeed downtown? Business that tend to cater to a certain clientel? How much of Augusta must we continue to disregard for this project to proceed? How about repairing the current state of downtown and improving the existing structures and attractions. How long must the Riverwalk remain incomplete? How long must the parking lots for the Riverwalk remain almost undrivable? How much of downtown would really be destroyed for the sake of progress? Would this new project really increase patronage if the security of citizens are still questioned? What about the security of current businesses? What would happen to the abandoned buildings on Ellis Street that Broad Street is currently hiding? Now think about the REAL cost of this project.

watching
0
Points
watching 08/29/07 - 11:21 pm
0
0
By far, the Drag Strip idea

By far, the Drag Strip idea is the best and would bring in the most cash to the city.

nkp
0
Points
nkp 08/30/07 - 12:11 am
0
0
How about another idea? The

How about another idea? The "Augusta Zoo"! We already have the first animal to go in the zoo- that white elephant known as the new terminal at Augusta Regional Airport. Now, this new pipe dream of Andy Cheek could be the second white elephant to fill our zoo. If the late Golf Hall of Fame was any indication, this idea should prove interesting. Get real, folks; This is Augusta, not Disneyland...

bigalsc
4
Points
bigalsc 08/30/07 - 01:33 pm
0
0
If 'Augusta was say, Aiken,

If 'Augusta was say, Aiken, with no water feature whatsoever, I'd say go for it. But we've got the underutilized Canal! Work with what we've got instead of starting over whole-cloth!

iletuknow
7
Points
iletuknow 08/30/07 - 01:43 pm
0
0
Honestly,how much do you

Honestly,how much do you think people are willing to pay to float down a canal with ghettos to look at on both sides? My thought is,not a lot.

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