Government recap: Augusta parks discussed, tech investments, Greeneway extension and more

Augusta Commissioners angry over Diamond Lakes park restrooms

After several months of waiting, the public restrooms at Diamond Lakes Regional Park are now re-open.

Capital Improvement Projects Manager Ron Lampkin and Parks & Recreation Deputy Director of Operations Ernest Wright confirmed the news on Tuesday during the Augusta Commission’s meeting.

Lampkin explained that the restrooms had been closed earlier this summer not because of any plumbing issues, but because water from the nearby storm drains were bringing water into the restrooms. They have been setting up pipework to divert that stormwater away from the building. As of Tuesday, the only step that was left in the project was installing new grates.

FILE – Tina Bovier and her daughter Danielle, 9, take advantage of warm weather by flying a kite at Diamond Lakes Regional Park in south Augusta.

Though they were glad to hear the restrooms were being reopened, some of the commissioners were annoyed, especially Commissioner Alvin Mason, who asked for the update Tuesday.

Mason expressed frustration over how long this process took since the restroom’s emergency closure this past summer and how he had never been told before Tuesday’s meeting that there had been any substantial progress on the repairs, let alone that a reopening was coming so soon.

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“But I’m here to tell you something stinks other than them toilets out there in terms of how this whole operation is going down and I’m not really satisfied with the communication process or lack there-of, because any time you talk about something that’s an emergency, I would have expected to have some updates along the way … to kind of let us know where we’re at,” Mason said.

In regards to communication, Lampkin said an email was recently sent to the City Administrator’s Office. Mason said he’d not been made aware of this.

The commissioner went on to explain how there is still a lot of repair work needed at the grounds of Diamond Lakes park. Mirroring that message was Commissioner John Clarke, who said all of their heavy-use parks, like Diamond Lakes and Lake Olmstead, are in need of some serious help.

This discussion was just for informational purposes and no action was taken.

Some items the commission approved:

  • Hussey Gay Bell architects of Savannah was awarded a contract totaling $839,200 to prepare construction documents for converting the old Houghton Elementary School into a space for the Augusta Juvenile Court System and the Richmond County Board of Elections.

  • JHC Corporation in Newnan, Georgia, was awarded a $305,000 contract to perform electrical improvements for the Augusta Saturday Market using Parks & Recreation capital funding.

  • In preparation of the retirement of its current explosive K-9 “Abby” and her handler, the Richmond County Marshal’s Office is taking on a new K-9 and handler. As they expand the K-9 team, nearly $50,000 has been approved to buy a new K-9 patrol/transport vehicle.

Columbia County invests in Backup Datacenter

During its meeting on Tuesday, Columbia County commissioners approved a significant technology purchase for its Backup Datacenter and Disaster Recovery site. The project was approved as part of the 2017-2022 SPLOST and the site’s purpose is to ensure that, in the event the main broadband point-of-presence is damaged or destroyed, the network will remain operational.

To equip the site, the commission is approving just over $1 million in equipment and services from Presido, the county’s Cisco reseller, and $656,542.86 in equipment and services from Mainline, the county’s data center support vendor.

Some more items the commission approved include: 

  • Keep Columbia County Beautiful initiative’s Adopt-a-Mile program was dissolved due to a lack of participation.

  • Columbia County Animal Services was approved for nearly $87,000 for new equipment and renovations such as a 20’x20′ shade structure and concrete pad in the play area, new fencing and gates, plus exterior painting.

  • Several vehicles are being purchased, including a truck for extension services, 14 cars for the sheriff’s office, and a 15-passenger van for Parks & Recreation.

North Augusta to facilitate Greeneway extension in-house

On Monday, North Augusta City Council unanimously passed a plan to use city workers for the upcoming project that extends the North Augusta Greeneway.

The Greeneway is a more than 7-mile paved recreational trail that is popular among runners, cyclists and nature lovers. The extension is a small one that would stretch the trail from the Woodstone Subdivision to Mayfield Drive.

The council ultimately decided to construct the extension in-house because it would be cheaper than hiring another company. North Augusta sought bids to facilitate the construction, but they only received one costing over $200,000. The city’s engineering and public works department estimates they could build the extension utilizing city forces for approximately $55,000.

Funding out of the Capital Project Sales Tax III has been approved, however, it won’t come entirely from that. In 2020, the city applied for and was awarded a Transportation Alternatives Program grant from the South Carolina Department of Transportation in the amount of $77,852.16, based on an estimated project cost of $97,315.20.

Mayor Briton Williams said the ultimate goal is to extend the Greeneway out to where it will connect to the country club North Augusta is currently developing, to the downtown area and out toward I-20; and while the current extension is a small one, it provides residents better access to the roads.

Some other items the council approved included:

  • Entering into a nearly $460,000 contract with A-Lert Construction Services in Augusta to build a facility that would recover and process recyclable materials.

  • Rezoning the property at 322 West Five Notch Road in order to build some apartments in place of the defunct 5 Notch Car Wash.

  • Providing a minimum 15% match to a $25,000 grant the city is applying for to fund the purchase of some new light pole banners.

This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Augusta government recap: Parks, tech investments, Greeneway extension

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