Savannah Riverkeeper raising funds for Richmond Co. recreation area

Savannah River
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News 12 This Morning / Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- How would you like to have a recreation area near downtown Augusta? That's why the Savannah Riverkeeper is trying to raise funds.

Just down Prep Phillips Drive near the Augusta Riverfront Marina is a large property that Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus has been working to clean up for years. She says the property has a lot of potential, and now that it's for sale, they are trying to raise the funds to buy it.

But the property is not in the best shape. Trash, car tires, broken glass and metal scraps fill 14 acres along the Savannah River.

"We have seen that it's at least 4 and a half feet deep with just solid contaminants," Bonitatibus said.

Beneath all the trash, Bonitatibus sees a treasure.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure and you're looking at my gold mine," she said.

Bonitatibus has been working to clean up this property for the past six years with one goal in mind: "What we wanna do is convert this into a recreational area that all of Augusta can enjoy."

That area would include an international disc golf course, kayaking trails, a beach and a lot more.

"The sky's the limit in terms of what we can do, but it would all be based on increasing the public's access to the river and increasing places they could go out and enjoy the outdoors in a way that right now they can't," she said.

It's something she says Richmond County is missing right now.

"We don't have an area where it makes sense where kids can get their feet wet, where we can engage in it, where we can kayak from it, where we can really enjoy it, and every citizen, not those that can afford to put a house along the river, deserves that opportunity," Bonitatibus said.

So now she's working to raise the funds to buy the property.

"It's up for silent bid," she explained. "The city is selling it and we have until Oct. 3 to if we're gonna purchase it to put in a bid, and if not then, it'll probably be lost from the public forever."

She's shooting for $100,000 -- what she says is a small price to pay for something the whole city would enjoy.

They would also get a new building hat would allow more opportunities for education and better facilities to help protect the river.

They have started a social media campaign to raise money. This money has to be raised by Oct. 3, which is about three weeks away.

You can find out more details and information on how to donate on their website or Tonya's Facebook page.

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