Heath Drive isn't closed for good

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At first glance, the ongoing roadwork might seem to justify fears that arose during the height of Augusta National Golf Club's land grab.

One end of Heath Drive is being shifted down Berckmans Road and will be reconstructed across from Gate 6 of Augusta National Golf Club.  Chris Thelen/Staff
Chris Thelen/Staff
One end of Heath Drive is being shifted down Berckmans Road and will be reconstructed across from Gate 6 of Augusta National Golf Club.

Homeowners west of the club, pondering whether to sell to the National or to various speculators, whispered rumors that when the club owns all the property fronting it along Berckmans Road that part of the road would be shut down and rerouted and that any holdouts in the path of the new Berckmans Road would lose their property to eminent domain.

"If the county can do it, and the Augusta National wants to, it's going to happen," said William Garner, who still lives on Heath Drive.

Now roads are disappearing, like so many houses bought by the National. Construction crews working for the club have turned the northern section of Heath Drive into dirt. McCarthy Drive is closed. So is Hillside Lane, even though a private residence is still there.

But the National says none of these streets is being erased.

Spokesman Glenn Greenspan said in an e-mail that all three will be reconstructed after the club finishes work on its 70-acre grassy parking lot this summer. According to plans on file with the city's Planning & Zoning Department, Heath Drive is being shifted southward to line up with Gate 6, allowing easy access for vehicles and pedestrians between the parking lot and the golf course.

The club also asked the city to abandon its McCarthy Drive right of way. The request has been approved by the fire, engineering and traffic engineering departments and is awaiting approval by utilities, according to city documents.

As for Hillside Lane, resident William Hatcher and Zoning and Development Administrator Bob Austin said a contractor for Augusta National mistakenly tore up part of the street, so the club must replace it.

Mr. Hatcher complained that a shorter road would have cars turning around in his driveway and yard.

Mr. Greenspan, however, said the club planned all along to reconstruct Hillside Lane, and that had nothing to do with a complaint.

Asked about Berckmans, the spokesman e-mailed a statement saying, "Any change to Berckmans Road would be a decision made by the City of Augusta."

Rerouting Berckmans would make sense, Planning Commission Executive Director George Patty said, but if it ever happens, "it may be after I'm gone and after you're gone."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (12) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 07/16/08 - 04:55 am
0
0
some change is good, some is

some change is good, some is not. These few changes concerning abandoned roads or rerouted roads aren't evil. They're just changes.

Unbelievable
88
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Unbelievable 07/16/08 - 06:54 am
0
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If they are offering a fair

If they are offering a fair price, usually a lot higher than the homes actual value, I dont see why someone would 'hold on' to their property. The ANGC does so much for this community it is ridiculous to try and tag them with an 'evil empire' monicker (SP?). They want to improve their facility, so let them. Re-routing Berckmans isnt the worst idea Ive heard.

tnjsw
0
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tnjsw 07/16/08 - 07:28 am
0
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Unbelievable you are not

Unbelievable you are not unbelievable but very naive. Tthe ANGC could care less about the people on Berkmans road, All they want is their goal and that is parking.

Little Lamb
48900
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Little Lamb 07/16/08 - 08:52 am
0
0
I must say it is looking

I must say it is looking fairly attractive what they are doing around there with the trees and the grass and the gravel parking lots. It's a lot nicer than some strip mall.

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 07/16/08 - 09:25 am
0
0
Nothing more than a spreading

Nothing more than a spreading cancer.

Fiat_Lux
16419
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Fiat_Lux 07/16/08 - 11:14 am
0
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It was a pleasant enough

It was a pleasant enough neighborhood and now is a very pleasant area to drive through. If the trees stay up and the grass stays down, how could anyone object, unless of course the Augusta National decides to make it a gated neighborhood/parking lot? I could see our county government bending over for that if the price were right, and the Augusta National certainly is capable of making the price as right as rain. If the National could be anywhere but Augusta, I'm sure it would be relocated to nicer diggs. Augusta is just not the same city nor have the same kind of people living here as even 20 years ago, mores the pity. Rich people tend to like to insulate themselves from the loud, ill-mannered rabble whenever possible, and who can blame them?

mojo
0
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mojo 07/16/08 - 12:16 pm
0
0
Does any one find it

Does any one find it disturbing that after spending millions in tax payer money on water, sewer, paving, fire hydrants, etc. the county is just closing roads and giving them to a private business? Where do I sign up to have the city give me the road in front of my house? Also worth mentioning is all the watering that's taking place on this land out of county fire hydrants. I'm stuck watering my lawn at night three days a week while a private business just taps into a fire hydrant for free!?

georgiasouthern
5
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georgiasouthern 07/16/08 - 02:45 pm
0
0
Fist_Lux where do you think

Fist_Lux where do you think the National would relocate to?

As It Is
2
Points
As It Is 07/17/08 - 12:39 am
0
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The ANGC does more for this

The ANGC does more for this communtiy than any other entity and anually donates over 3 million a year to local charities. They are improving their business, improving the area as a whole and paying far more than fair market value to the land owners within the area. Any pittance the county has spent has been re-paid by the taxes the ANGC pays and in due to the fact that land values anywhere near the course have more than trippled in the last 10 5 years bringing in a great deal more in property taxes for the area. They obviously care about their neighbors because they bend over backwards to accomidate and assist them and they care about the area through donations and they assist in more ways than anyone on here complaining could ever imagine.

Little Lamb
48900
Points
Little Lamb 07/17/08 - 07:32 am
0
0
Mojo, you have no evidence

Mojo, you have no evidence that Augusta National is getting their water for free. They have a contract with the city for water and they pay what their contract says.

mojo
0
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mojo 07/17/08 - 08:31 am
0
0
Little Lamb - simmer down and

Little Lamb - simmer down and ride by sometime - you'll often see hoses running from a fire hydrant to massive industrial watering devices. Fire hydrant's don't come with water meters - they tap unmetered into the county's water supply.

mojo
0
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mojo 07/17/08 - 08:42 am
0
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As It Is - you must have a

As It Is - you must have a very skewed criteria for judging how organizations contribute to the local community. You insult many fine local institutions when you place The National above them for community service. As I've never seen a public accounting for their donations I can't evaluate their charitable endeavors; however, there are many non-profits that invest more than $3 million annually into this community. The National hosts what many consider to be the world's finest golf tournament each year. Outside this tournament The National goes out of it's way to demonstrate they consider themselves above the status of Augusta, GA. It's been decades since they had any sincere interest in the local business community. They've gone out of their way to show the whole world it's their show and they can and will shut the whole thing down before they consider any form of outside input - no matter who you are (decades old patrons and former local business supporters included).

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