Racial lines vote makes future of the Patch unknown

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's back to the practice range for the future of Augusta's Municipal Golf Course.

But the fight over the city's golf course might not be the only problem.

"Whether or not we move forward, whether we shut it down or go out for another bid," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

"I would not want the patch to close down," said Commissioner Mary Davis.

"I think the next option is you're just going to have to shut it down. It's demolition by neglect," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

The company who wanted to lease it changed its mind.

"I don't think the Patch is losing any more money than the aquatics center or tennis center," said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.

"I'm frustrated because certain members don't understand what good business practices are," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.

On the motion to approve a lease with Virginia Beach Management for the Patch, five white commissioners voted yes and four black commissioners voted no. Commissioner Williams abstained, which prevents the mayor from voting.

A motion to deny was made and commissioners still voted on racial lines.

"If you look at it realistically, you've got five Republicans and five Democrats," said Mayor Copenhaver.

It's estimated that fertilizing, seeding and maintaining the course will cost the city an extra $200,000. The city is already facing a huge deficit.

"We're looking at a $4 million deficit here in the city. There are certain commissioners who want to streamline our government," Smith said.

"We create and manufactured crisis when it's not necessary. I put it in the category of a want and not a need," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

Will the Patch stay open, close or be sold? It's the question and it's going to take six votes to answer it.


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