Residents praise plan for downtown canal

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Residents attending Commissioner Andy Cheek's second public hearing on building a canal in downtown Augusta praised the proposal as the best idea anybody has come up with in decades.

"This is one of the most exciting proposals I ever heard of," Betty Kinsey said. "And I hope we don't do like we usually do - take 10 years and talk about it. I'd like to see it start tomorrow."

About three dozen attended the hearing on Mr. Cheek's Ellis Street Option at the Warren Road Community Center in west Augusta, and if anyone saw major flaws in the plan, they didn't say.

"I think this is a wonderful proposal, too," James Reese said. "Is there someone who's going to push this forward when you leave office?"

Mr. Cheek said he's retiring from the Augusta Commission at year's end, but he's "not going to fall off the earth" and will continue to push the proposal.

He suggested money to build the canal on Ellis Street from 12th Street to Sixth Street might be part of the next sales tax package or could come from shifting money from the judicial center project, which some say will take millions more than is now available to build.

Mr. Cheek said one of his biggest frustrations has been that so much tax money goes for jail pods. "It's time we use some of the money for ourselves," he said.

Mr. Cheek said the city has not addressed Augusta's eroding tax base in years and that a canal would bring in tourist dollars to ease property owners' burden.

He said the San Antonio canal is the top entertainment destination in Texas. And Bricktown Riverwalk in Oklahoma City turned that city around, bringing urban revitalization, condominiums, restaurants, museums and theaters.

Resident Joanne Reese asked Mr. Cheek to list some things residents could do to get the canal project pushed forward.

Mr. Cheek said they can write letters to the editor and keep it in front of the politicians.

District 7 Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who represents west Augusta, told the crowd he's not ready to make a commitment until he gets more details.

"I don't make decisions without information," he said. "I'm like everybody else. I'm trying to gather information. I've said about this it is the most innovative thinking in a long time."

But Augusta has many needs, he said.

"Sorry Andy, we're going to continue to build jails," he said. "And other things need to be completed. We started building a fire training tower 10 years ago. We're fixing to have a fire rating review. We haven't had one in 20 years."

That review could affect the fire insurance rates of everyone in the city, Mr. Brigham said.

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

Comments (38) Add comment
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debby
12
Points
debby 08/31/07 - 04:05 am
0
0
It's quite sad that Augusta

It's quite sad that Augusta needs to continue to build jails. What does that say about many of our residents?

Painter
24
Points
Painter 08/31/07 - 04:43 am
0
0
This is the dumbest idea I

This is the dumbest idea I have seen in a long time!!!

Daphne
1
Points
Daphne 08/31/07 - 05:16 am
0
0
Everyone who loves Augusta

Everyone who loves Augusta should push for the canal project. The tourism and revitalization of down town would bring a positive cash flow ,unlike jails and free housing. If Augusta does not do something soon to increase positive downtown activity well then the powers that be can just put a perimeter of barbed wire around the city and convert it to a giant prison. It is a crying shame when jails are your main money expenditure.

fish2
0
Points
fish2 08/31/07 - 06:06 am
0
0
Great idea! Should have done

Great idea! Should have done this years ago.

BAMABOY
20
Points
BAMABOY 08/31/07 - 06:13 am
0
0
Why don't they focus on the

Why don't they focus on the canal third level clean up where economic development could begin right now and then work on the Ellis Street Option. The Third Level is a great opportunity to work to rehab that area of the downtown along with tax payers not have to carry the load with certian tax incentives.

JFJ
0
Points
JFJ 08/31/07 - 06:36 am
0
0
This is an absolutely awesome

This is an absolutely awesome idea, I wish they could start the transformation of Ellis St. tomorrow! Downtown Augusta needs something like this to attract business!!

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 08/31/07 - 06:44 am
0
0
I believe working on the

I believe working on the existing canal is a prudent plan..........and I believe Andy knows this..... he will push the Ellis St. project until the folks that vote on this stuff actually give him the canal for his water projects just to shut him up......good plan Andy........ canal today ..........................................Ellis tomorrow (for the next visionary)

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 08/31/07 - 07:13 am
0
0
How about barricading off the
Unpublished

How about barricading off the seven blocks involved for the next year and see if anybody gets upset? (A dry-run?) If not, the canal should be a winner. Plus, that would give the disgruntled Morris interests time to horn in on the deal somehow, guaranteeing their blessing.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 08/31/07 - 07:38 am
0
0
Oh yeah... Ever notice the
Unpublished

Oh yeah... Ever notice the statement after the author's column that says: "Reach Sylvia Cooper at..., etc."? Well, there is a lost cause for you. While not criticizing her work product, she certainly shows no professional responsibility nor personal consideration in responding to thoughtful email addressed to her. Don't waste your time. Better odds of a response from Santa Claus than from Sylvia.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 08/31/07 - 07:57 am
0
0
Never had a response from

Never had a response from Santa, but had a response from Sylvia Cooper. I would imagine she has lots of emails and it may be too time consuming to answer all of them. I have been to San Antonio TX and visited the river canal there. It was nice and seemed to be thriving with lots of tourists, restaurants and shops. However, for Augusta to do anything downtown, it needs to clean up the beggars, homeless people and rife-raft that occupy the downtown area. I don't feel comfortable with people begging for money or groups of people just drifting or sitting around looking for something to get into.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 08/31/07 - 08:05 am
0
0
getalife, it wouldn't take
Unpublished

getalife, it wouldn't take any more clicks to send a form reply than it would take to delete an email you wanted to ignore.

Little Lamb
48969
Points
Little Lamb 08/31/07 - 08:10 am
0
0
Remember that the San Antonio

Remember that the San Antonio Riverwalk was developed around an actual flowing spring large enough to be called the San Antonio River. They built around a natural river. Here we'd be tearing up a city, relocating utilities, shoring up foundations, disrupting traffic, adding pumps and valves (takes a lot of electricity to pump that much water) and who knows what else.

whatsupwiththat
1
Points
whatsupwiththat 08/31/07 - 08:31 am
0
0
Hey! Why don't we just build

Hey! Why don't we just build a drag strip on Ellis Street?

Augusta Mom
1
Points
Augusta Mom 08/31/07 - 08:33 am
0
0
There are natural springs

There are natural springs flowing underground in many parts of Augusta. Have we checked to see if Ellis St may fall into one of those? We need more facts and costs, but I think think it sounds like a great idea!

noway
201
Points
noway 08/31/07 - 08:40 am
0
0
Have you noticed that the

Have you noticed that the county can't even finish the projects that are on their current SPLOST list because of poor planning and a shortage of money? and now Cheeks wants this pie in the sky project? Yes, the pictures are beautiful, but the canal would be overlooking dilapidated, old, useless buildings. It's not like there are going to be restaurants and ballrooms. Get with reality. There are dreams, but this is a fantasy and a joke.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
Points
WorriedAboutOurFuture 08/31/07 - 08:52 am
0
0
How about checking with some

How about checking with some of the retail businesses that have been successful in San Antonio and Oklahoma City to see if they would think coming to Augusta is a good idea. If they do, that might be a better indicator of whether we should take the risk-- and it would be a HUGE risk for this kind of tax base. At this point, I would just like to get my West Augusta street resurfaced-- or at least patched again-- and not have to pay so much for crappy garbage pick-up.

vermint
986
Points
vermint 08/31/07 - 09:23 am
0
0
Thanks, noway! You're right,

Thanks, noway! You're right, wouldn't be much of a view, except for ugly old buildings. I posted the other day...what does the city intend to do to provide parking for those of us who own businesses on Broad St., but the only possible access to our parking lot is from Ellis? And the businesses that front on Ellis whose parking is only accessible from Ellis. And the businesses on Greene whose only access to parking is from Ellis?

big dog
1
Points
big dog 08/31/07 - 09:32 am
0
0
Yeah,i need anew sewage line

Yeah,i need anew sewage line on my street,The current line is ancient,Put it on the ballot in the next election so we can put this absurd idea behind and concentrate on reality i.e. aging infastructure,more police,cleaning up the city.Have ya'll noticed how high the weeds are on puplic land all over the city?We need to improve the general appearance of the entire city before we concentrate on pie in the sky plans.

elizabeth61
0
Points
elizabeth61 08/31/07 - 10:00 am
0
0
There are a lot of more

There are a lot of more important projects that those millions of dollars should be used for. Like building and repairing roads and bridges, helping the homeless, feeding the poor, medical care for those who can't afford it, new sewage and drainage lines, making the environment healthier, good mental health care, etc. Use that money to do what God would want to be done.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 08/31/07 - 10:19 am
0
0
Littlelamb, I'm not sure

Littlelamb, I'm not sure where you get your facts but the Rio Grande was not a flowing river through the city along the current path of the river walk there. In fact they were going to fill in the current route, which was little more than a ditch. Glad they didn't now huh? noway, your name says it all, you wounldn't be a Ruben would you? They should take the money out of the Courthouse money to do the studies needed to provide the exact costing and scope of this project. Then community support can halp build political support to get this awesome idea moving.

dantopolsky
0
Points
dantopolsky 08/31/07 - 10:22 am
0
0
With all due respect.. Mr.

With all due respect.. Mr. Cheeks, this is NOT A GOOD IDEA. A few questions for those interested:

1. The cost of this project is estimated (probably underestimated) at $47 MILLION DOLLARS! (last I heard). WHERE will this money come from? I don't want to pay these taxes.
2. The project like this would take MORE THAN 10 YEARS to complete. Does anybody remember what the digging and building of those parking lots down the middle of broad did to downtown business? It drove most folks out to shop in the new (at that time) shopping malls. This is one of the many things that what killed downtown (also crime, the trains, and poor leadership). By the way, a few years after this my father decided to close our family business on broad.
3. Diggiing up Ellis street WILL STOP THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC (what little there still is) across the city for A LONG TIME.. YEARS! How will that effect business during those 10 years of construction?
4. I've been to San Antonio. It is beaituful, BUT they already had a river. They didn't have to build one.... Hey! Guess what? We have a river too. And it already has a river walk.. That saves $47 MILLION that we don't have. What a deal!

heartablazing69
0
Points
heartablazing69 08/31/07 - 10:32 am
0
0
The Ellis street project will

The Ellis street project will just become a flowing trash can for downtown. Drive down Broad street from one end to the other and you see a lot of people walking with their brown paper bags with the "40" or the mad dog 20/20 bottles this kind of stuff will end up in the canal, like it already does on the upper part of Broad. Where can I see pictures of the water front and surrounding areas in San Antonio and Oklahoma city? I bet they don't look anything like downtown. I can't see this bringing in new revenue unless you open a sushi bar.

butterflygina
159
Points
butterflygina 08/31/07 - 11:04 am
0
0
I wish this idea would just

I wish this idea would just GO AWAY! It makes no since Andy! I'm sick of hearing about it.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 08/31/07 - 11:15 am
0
0
Why don't we move the "Shop

Why don't we move the "Shop at Riverwatch" downtown. They, when they were going to be finished, would be a "boom" to the economic health of ARC. What a joke, what a buffon? Broad Street already has a canal down the middle. Flood it as a "dry run" (-: Move the cars and add canoes. Why not clean up Lake Olmstead? Bring it back to its potential. The water is already there and all we need is to stop the leaking of raw sewerage into the lake. Engineers who can flood Ellis Street surely can stop leaking sewerage.

jdcooper
0
Points
jdcooper 08/31/07 - 12:11 pm
0
0
To clean-up Lake Olmstead and

To clean-up Lake Olmstead and make people want to use it more, you'd have to bulldoze all those project homes that they're in the midst of revitalizing. Not going to happen. The same thing with revitalizing parts in or around downtown Augusta. Bringing tourists (including the ones in Columbia County!) to downtown for such a feature will lure more and more businesses into the area, bringing more money.

CS
0
Points
CS 08/31/07 - 01:19 pm
0
0
How about instead of building

How about instead of building a canal, commissioners do some real work for the county? Such as...stopping all the bickering across racial lines, providing our public safety authorities with much needed raises and equipment, get the city right before you go building stupid projects with taxpayers money.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 08/31/07 - 02:46 pm
0
0
Someone has not been to San

Someone has not been to San Antonio, Amigos. Look at a map before you show your ignorance, por favor. The Rio Grande flows through Laredo. But who cares what river or strem or ditch. This ain't Texas, ain't no Texas millions and sure ain't no Texas leadership.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 08/31/07 - 02:51 pm
0
0
All of these "wantabee"

All of these "wantabee" socialite types should move to Buckhead. Wake up, you are living in "Buthead" (-: Just stay in your "gated communities", let your spoiled kids search for drugs in the ghetto and sip coctails in the evening at the West Lake CC. Garden City, what a joke. The "Garbage City" of the south. Oh did we ever get garbage collection resolved since consolidation.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 08/31/07 - 02:53 pm
0
0
I looked over my back wall

I looked over my back wall and much to my surprise there were actually "poor African Americans" living behind me in Section 8 housing. Hummm!!!

heartablazing69
0
Points
heartablazing69 08/31/07 - 03:20 pm
0
0
robertoruce thats probably

robertoruce thats probably the ones you buy your crack from.

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