COLUMN: Reject this plan for riverfront development
Project Jackson, North Augustaís attempt to shoehorn a 225-bed hotel and a 5,000-seat stadium into the Hammondís Ferry and River Club areas of North Augusta should be rejected on so many levels, it is hard to know where to start.
The people who live in the River Club are steadfastly opposed to the stadium, because it will bring unwanted traffic, parking, noise, light, litter, crime and other disruptions to an area known for its quiet, natural retreat-like area along the river.
In a recent survey of the River Club residents, 85 percent of them rejected building the stadium.
The residents who live in Hammondís Ferry and the River Club will have to live with this eyesore and intrusion into their lives for the next 20 to 30 years, and it is contrary to the very plans the city signed on to in the 2009 Master Plan for Augusta/North Augusta, also known as the Westabou Vision see: augustatomorrow.org.
The mantra of city government is long range planning. The 2009 Master Plan is less than four years old, and is now ready for the trash bin. North Augustans should ask for a refund on the moneys spent to research and draft the plan.
The plan called for a hotel, yes, but on the hill across from the municipal building, not next to the river; and it didnít call for blocking the view of the river with a huge stadium.
The city leaders put together another long range planning document called North August 2000 ďThe Vision Continues.Ē
Itís full of smiling faces and glowing testaments to North Augustaís planned development Ė no one suggesting a 5,000 seat stadium should be squeezed in between the brick ponds and the Greeneway. Visit northaugusta2000.org for details.
Letís also debunk the standard comeback lines youíll hear:
ē This will create jobs or improve the local economy. Studies show that lower Class A baseball teams like the Green Jackets have no positive economic impact on their communities. Even if you assume there is a positive impact, that impact is already here in the CSRA, and moving the team two miles from their current location will not magically improve or add to the local economy.
ē Youíll hear the hotel needs an anchor so we will build a stadium. Class A baseball teams donít draw overnight guests to their venues thatís not the anchor investors are looking for.
ē Finally, youíll hear the mayor say, ďWe built the brick ponds, itís our Central Park, do you really think we would now destroy them?Ē or words to that effect. What the mayor doesnít understand is, you can destroy the calm, restive, restorative area, like the brick ponds without disturbing one ounce of the water in them. The lights, noise, traffic, and litter created by the stadium will be a hostile neighbor for the flora and fauna and people who visit the park.
And one more thing, next time you are in New York City, go to Central Park, and let us know how many stadiums you see there.
The use of the Tax Increment Financing District to create this monstrosity also is not in keeping with the spirit if not the letter of South Carolina law, but thatís an issue that deserves a separate letter of its own.
Steve Donohue is the president of the River Club Homeowners Association.