Panel agrees to swap for library site

Augusta's new main library is closer to construction because of a property swap city commissioners approved Tuesday.

The board voted to swap property the city owns at 1328 Baker Ave. for an apartment building at 842 Greene St. that will be demolished to make way for the library.

The city agreed to exchange 1.52 acres at Baker Avenue and Wrightsboro Road and pay Augusta Properties Ltd., the owner of the building and 0.296 acres at Greene and Ninth streets, $487,000, which will be used to renovate buildings on the Baker Avenue property.

Acquiring the Greene Street apartment building has been complicated because it was government subsidized housing, and the existing tenants had to be relocated into other Section 8 housing.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners approved increasing the cost to homeowners for street lighting. The cost will go from 5 cents per linear foot to 24 cents per linear foot for each foot of frontage. It will cost property owners $5 to $24 more a year.

City Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell said the rate has not been increased in 10 years, and increased power costs have created shortfalls in the street lighting fund that have had to be subsidized by the general fund.

Also, City Administrator Fred Russell recommended the former human resources director for Escambia County, Fla., to fill the Augusta position.

Mr. Russell recommended Rod Powell, currently president of Strategic Planning & Process Improvement in Escambia County. Mr. Powell also was the human resources director in Gwinnett County from 2000 to 2003.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the recommendation in two weeks.

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