Sheriff wants to close parts of Riverwalk

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, July 8, 2013

Commission seal

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It could end up costing nearly a million dollars to beef up security downtown. The money would be used for cameras, more deputies and better lighting.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree presented his plan to Augusta commissioners on Monday. Roundtree had lots of support from commissioners, except when it came to closing parts of the Riverwalk.

Roundtree says nothing good happens after midnight, and the Riverwalk should be closed around that time.

"It's nothing romantic out on the river at 2:30 in the morning," he said.

The sheriff's recommendation to commissioners would include closing the Riverwalk from 11 p.m. until sunrise. That's around the time Wesley Spires and Ashley Solesbee were attacked while sitting on a bench a few months ago.

"This is a plan we've been working on for three months, and we are ready to move forward with it," Roundtree said.

The sheriff's plans include creating a new business improvement district. Downtown businesses from 5th to 13th streets would pay a tax into the program that would support six sworn officers and three community officers devoted strictly to the area. Roundtree is also asking for around $400,000 for 32 surveillance cameras that would be monitored 24/7.

"We visited other cities, and based on the layout of the Riverwalk and downtown Augusta, we think those cameras will give us complete coverage," Roundtree said.

This bid district is nothing new. The CADI program used a similar plan and wasn't renewed in January.

Roundtree will present his plan to business owners as well. Fifty-one percent of property owners have to be in agreement for the plan to move forward.

"We will continue to provide service as needed. This is a way to enhance service and will not take away service at all," Roundtree said.

Commissioners approved developing a business improvement district to fund the sheriff's plans. The full commission will still make a final vote next week.

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