Augusta's future: great view of progress on other side of river?

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Friends, we offer you today an amazing, stupendous, eye-opening feat of science never before attempted by mortal man! Yes indeed, gather 'round, friends, for we're talking about stretching the bounds of science and imagination and changing forever what you think of the space-time continuum!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. We're taking you -- back to the future!

No DeLorean needed, folks, nor any plutonium or 1.21 gigawatts of electricity. The only time machine you need is your own car or two feet.

Here it is, then -- the road map to Augusta's future:

Today's riverfront.

OK, you can relax now -- your trip to the future is over. Now, isn't that amazing? You can actually see the future simply by gazing at Augusta's riverfront.

Yes, indeed, that famously moribund view of lonely weeds, tillable land and wasted opportunity is exactly the sight you will see in five or 10 years if nothing else happens. Which is, of course, the natural state of affairs here.

Nothing to replace the erstwhile Golf and Gardens. Nothing on the plowed site of the failed Watermark condo project.

Can you believe the lack of development, particularly along the river downtown? Here we have a city with a more-than-accommodating climate, an affordable standard of living and the natural resources and manpower to be anything we want -- and yet, here sits, perfectly idle and eager, acres and acres of some of the most prime riverfront real estate east of the Mississippi.

Our descendants will wonder what, if anything, we were thinking.

But hey, it's not all gloom and doom. At least your photos of Augusta's skyline will be good for years to come! And we'll keep that unobstructed view of progress across the river in North Augusta, S.C.!

So you see, it's not all bad!

Some of us, of course, pine for more. And we ask ourselves, in a form that Dickens might: Are these the shadows of things that must be, or are they the shadows of things that might be?

We choose to see the Augusta that could be. High-end residences and the attendant businesses on the river downtown. New buildings sprouting up. Construction jobs. Job jobs. Tourists and conventions that now go elsewhere. A thriving theater and nightlife.

We see potential.

Why must these things continue to be shadows of things that only might be?

Citizen activist Woody Merry tried to show us Thursday night at his one-man town hall. Citing the city's looming budget deficit and the longtime political loggerheads on the Augusta Commission, Merry angrily and rightly summed up, "We're going nowhere, except $8 million in the hole."

Brazilians have joked that theirs is "the country of the future -- and always will be." Is that Augusta's lot?

It will be, and we'll never get back to the future that might have been, if we don't elect leaders willing to take us there.

On Tuesday, we'll be deciding three contested Augusta Commission races. The choices constitute a collective fork in the road. On one path progress awaits; on the other -- well, you've seen the sorry vacant end of that cul-de-sac.

We've taken the measure of the candidates, and we sincerely believe that candidates Matt Aitken, Joe Bowles and Bobby Hankerson -- in districts 1, 3 and 5 -- easily represent Augusta's best chance for change. We believe they can help their colleagues break the logjam at City Hall and get this community moving again.

Woody Merry has his followers and his detractors. But mostly he has his heart in the right place and the kind of passion we should all envy. Even if you question his methods, we should join him in his anger at the state of politics here and his zeal for making changes.

It starts with Tuesday's election. Get out and vote -- and change the forlorn future you see on the banks of the Savannah.

The future is precisely why we have the present.

And what a gift the present could be if we'd only use it.

Comments (25) Add comment
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WhippingPost
1
Points
WhippingPost 11/01/09 - 03:21 am
0
0
We don't have enough subsidy

We don't have enough subsidy living space in A/RC. We need more projects populated by tax consumers. We need to attract more people to live off the government dole. We need to be known as the kind and benevolent little town of the south. Growth is for losers. This will allow Aiken and Columbia counties to grow, unburdened.

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 11/01/09 - 06:42 am
0
0
Hankerson? He is a has been.

Hankerson? He is a has been.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 11/01/09 - 07:09 am
0
0
The articles are getting
Unpublished

The articles are getting worse from this printing operation with almost anything being printed and the logic is, well strange. The thinking that comparing two cities and their development is worthy for a credible discussion. Ha! If thats OK, lets compare the plight of African-Americans citizens to others who are similiar and point out the historical disadvantages of laws, property violations, property crimes, and legacy of those disadvantages. The "keeping up with Jones" argument is in poor taste and offers nothing for serious consideration.

catfish201
0
Points
catfish201 11/01/09 - 07:21 am
0
0
Hankerson will help move the

Hankerson will help move the county forward.

Fundamental_Arminian
1833
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 11/01/09 - 07:49 am
0
0
I think the development on

I think the development on North Augusta's side of the river has been accomplished with private money. The same is true of the Water's Edge Community on our side of the river. Augusta needs a pay-as-you-go approach like North Augusta's. What's ugly is not undeveloped land, but formerly developed land with parks and buildings that now lie empty, poorly maintained, and overgrown with weeds. If there are private developers willing and able build on our side of the river, let's encourage them. But let's not confuse bankruptcy with progress.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 11/01/09 - 08:28 am
0
0
justus with your way of

justus with your way of thinking you and your people will wallow in selfpity and languish in obscurity for generations to come...welcome to YOUR future.

corgimom
27928
Points
corgimom 11/01/09 - 08:43 am
0
0
justnuts doesn't think that

justnuts doesn't think that SC has the "appeal" that Georgia does.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 11/01/09 - 09:08 am
0
0
Only once we move the
Unpublished

Only once we move the project-mind people out of office- and away from downtown Augusta will we move to another level of revitalization of Augusta. Hopefully Tuesday's election will be a turning point for this. The TEE Center is a great start, as well as a Hyatt Hotel. Perhaps the condo's will follow once they see progress starting.

SoonerorLater
0
Points
SoonerorLater 11/01/09 - 09:15 am
0
0
13% of Richmond county

13% of Richmond county residents recieve welfare payments, almost 25% recieve food stamps, and almost 25% recieve Medicaid (versus 16.7% statewide), and 23.9% live below the poverty line. With a poverty and welfare population so large, it is no wonder that Augusta cannot keep up with its rival cities such as Savannah, Columbus, and Macon. Add in the crooked commissioners who only look out for themselves and there is no money to revitalize downtown. Even if it were, who would want to go down there with the crime and gun toting thugs that roam the night like predators. Only until Augusta changes its political scene and cleans up crime, Richmond county will continue to be a cesspool of crime, poverty, and will see its neighbors reap the benefits of tourism dollars and business locating elsewhere.

jack
10
Points
jack 11/01/09 - 09:58 am
0
0
Hankerson? He is a has

Hankerson? He is a has been.
Posted by concernednative on Sun Nov 1, 2009 5:42 AM....The only "has been" elected from that district thor did anything other than to grandtand/make a fool of himself and vote along racial lines.

jack
10
Points
jack 11/01/09 - 10:08 am
0
0
Great article. I moved to N.

Great article. I moved to N. Augusta from A/RC in '95 and am glad I did. Totally different environment over here with forward looking folks getting elected. My total monthly bill for water, sewage, garbage and storm water fee averages about $60 a month. I was paying almost that much for garbage service in A/RC and got nowhere near the collection service I get hiere (anything, including furniture and yard cuttings next to curb unbagged), great law enforcement with little crime, compard to Augusta. The only thing that is a little high is ad valoram taxes on vehicles. Great place to live.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 11/01/09 - 10:52 am
0
0
Augusta, being the trade

Augusta, being the trade center of our region is required by law to provide low-income housing and subsidized life-styles -- this allows Aiken & Columbia Counties to bypass a lot of the problems that comes with such federal mandates -- however, we have the resources and opportunities to be a destination community of choice -- all it takes is a progressive government and a return to the public-private partnership in place prior to Consolidation -- we need also a return to Roberts Rules of Order in managing our Commission -- with a majority vote not an absurd 6 vote requirement to get anything done -- and to end an over 40 year conquering occupation force of the Justice Department -- send them packing back to Washington -- these would be a start -- is there any true leader listening?

NoPartyFan
2
Points
NoPartyFan 11/01/09 - 11:15 am
0
0
I would like to see some of

I would like to see some of the land and unused buildings converted into attractive training areas for the unskilled and for people who want to learn. It should have an area/a where products can be bought from results of the training. The courses taught could include: buick masonary and stone working, horiticulture, music lessons on dulcimer and other folk instruments, music instrument creation, International cooking training, sewing, cake decoration, fabric making, clothing design, horticulture, agriculture, pottery making, basket weaving, hair care, child care, elder care, basic car mechanics, carpentry, painting, professional skills on how to dress and other courses on team building, getting along with people, manners, basic office computer skills, world religions, canning, upholstering, meditation, exercise, dancing, film making, photography and whatever else someone can think up. There is a large labor force here. Many could be trained/retrained, produce some products to sell and maybe generate some tourists $$ with the product fair in marketed and architected in the right manner.

gcap
270
Points
gcap 11/01/09 - 11:28 am
0
0
Do you recall President

Do you recall President Reagan saying, "Tear down this wall!" They did and east Europe became free. What's this got to do with Augusta? Well picture a leader in our community standing at the 8th Street fountain saying, "Tear down this levy!" Until the levy goes, business along the riverfront will not grow. Private money, not government funding, will be the indicator of potential growth. No reasonable investors want anything to do with Augusta's riverfront in its current condition. The government can add a penny to the sales tax for the next year or so to finance the only possible solution to the blight of downtown. What does the levy do anyway? Tear it down.

corgimom
27928
Points
corgimom 11/01/09 - 11:40 am
0
0
The city leaders of North

The city leaders of North Augusta said publically, "We see Augusta and all of its terrible problems and we don't want to become another Augusta" and have conducted themselves accordingly. Gcap, are you talking about tax levys or the Levee? Not sure what you mean. But have you ever seen the flooding on Riverwalk? Tear it out, and all that mulitimillion dollar property will get flooded, just like it did before the levee was constructed. The Riverwalk wasn't supposed to flood, and it does. It would change the 100-year flood plain and would cost Augusta billions. Go to the courthouse and see the projections of what would happen if it breaks. The flood zone is staggering.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 11/01/09 - 12:36 pm
0
0
It's people like Justus4 that

It's people like Justus4 that are keeping Augusta in the "dark" ages. I've said for years, since I've lived here, that Augusta has WASTED it's biggest asset. Take a look at cities like Cincinnati, Louisville, Evansville and St Louis and see what THEY have done with their riverfront. Floating bars and restaurants that draw boaters and others alike to the waterfront are prominent in every one of these towns. Just think how much tax revenue would be created in sales and property taxes from these establishments that are now flowing to Aiken and Columbia counties. What does Augusta have? A walking path that people are scared to be on after dusk and closed up buildings and failed museums on the river. Of course with the county commissioners and people like Justus inhabiting the city it will forever dwell in the past that the DEMOCRATS created and hope to keep.

chel
0
Points
chel 11/01/09 - 01:22 pm
0
0
@Nopartyfan: Been there done

@Nopartyfan: Been there done that! You would be surprised at how many of those "train/retrain" facilities have come and gone from Augusta/Downtown in the past 5 years. People tried to get grant funding to open shelters, drug/alcohol treatment programs and GED classes but gave up after lack of community interest and lack of funding. Can't help the people who don't want to be helped. Augusta is fighting for growth, but too many people with the opinion of Justus4 would rather complain and bring race into everything instead of being proactive and work together to make changes to move forward into the future that benefit all people.

NoPartyFan
2
Points
NoPartyFan 11/01/09 - 02:02 pm
0
0
That's a shame Chel. My

That's a shame Chel. My thinking was that you would already have to be a non-addict before coming in to the program. No GED required. Work would be required half of the time in the retail parts of the project and on the job training in the courses to other half of time. I can see how it would be hard to sustain economically; to maintain community interest and to provide the right people to do the training and run a small business at the same time. One of the goals would be to keep people busy, learning and reducing idle time watching TV, eating and just no means to change to future. Another idea on how to pay cost for the training, would be to earn credits by doing work in other parts of the city; getting good grades in school; doing community service, etc.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 11/01/09 - 05:29 pm
0
0
If the folks mentioned are

If the folks mentioned are the "future", what have they been doing in the "past" to get us to where we aren't? I believe if we trully want to be in the future, it starts with the Chamber of Commerce members who could raise the income levels of our citizens up to the rest of the country. But then if the gave their employees raises, that would mean they would have to drive a year old Lexus or Mercedes. No it would be much better to save the money for another mega buck party downtown to pat each other on the back.

justthefacts
20367
Points
justthefacts 11/01/09 - 05:45 pm
0
0
Ahhh, got to love the wealth

Ahhh, got to love the wealth envy. Diss, why don't YOU start a business downtown and pay your people well??

jack
10
Points
jack 11/01/09 - 05:52 pm
0
0
What the hell is the AC doing

What the hell is the AC doing running this story two days in a row? Not enough worthwhile in A/RC to write about?

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 11/01/09 - 06:02 pm
0
0
Sooner or later do a little

Sooner or later do a little research on Macon. One of the top ten poorest cities in the country. Bad example.

SoonerorLater
0
Points
SoonerorLater 11/01/09 - 08:53 pm
0
0
I was referencing what they

I was referencing what they have done with their downtown area, it is much more pleasant that Augusta.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 11/01/09 - 11:43 pm
0
0
soonerorlater said "13% of

soonerorlater said "13% of Richmond county residents recieve welfare payments, almost 25% recieve food stamps, and almost 25% recieve Medicaid (versus 16.7% statewide), and 23.9% live below the poverty line". Sounds like we need a system where these people do not not get these monies unless they work for it. Mobody should get something for nothing.

eachoneteachone
0
Points
eachoneteachone 11/02/09 - 12:25 am
0
0
Generational welfare is a

Generational welfare is a problem that will only continue to grow. Everyone involved in this system milks it. Downtown Augusta will be better of if the generational welfare people are displaced away from the city core. Then educated monied people will replace them.

Ben There
56
Points
Ben There 11/02/09 - 01:04 am
0
0
The levee is an unnecessary

The levee is an unnecessary eye sore. Tear it down!

melissa1127
0
Points
melissa1127 11/04/09 - 09:48 am
0
0
I don't understand why people

I don't understand why people think it is just a bad thing for Aiken County to grow? Columbia County will grow regardless of the growth or improvement of Richmond County. Augusta not flourishing has nothing to do with the other counties. The only focus has been on Broad Street and maybe someone needs to start thinking beyond the main strip downtown.

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