Some in North Augusta fear new stadium will jeopardize wildlife, gators

A rendering of the proposed North Augusta complex. (WRDW-TV)
A rendering of the proposed North Augusta complex. (WRDW-TV)
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- It's a daily routine for William Daniel and his black labs Tess and Lady. They spend a couple hours on a peaceful walk through Brick Pond Park.

Usually, the two dogs lead him off the trail into wilderness only a stone's throw away from the 13th Street bridge in North Augusta.

"We see deer here at least once or twice a week. The anhingas are always around and egrets. They have the blue herons," Daniel said.

If they're lucky, sometimes they spot one of the resident gators, too. They're all animals Daniel feels may be going away if council approves a $150 million development that would bring a stadium, parking garage and a luxury hotel only yards away from the pristine nature park.

"They won't have any place to go. When they start clearing out all the forest between here in the river, the deer will have to start looking for other places," Daniel said.

If approved, construction of the public-private venture to bring the Augusta GreenJackets to North Augusta could start this summer.

Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus has already gotten a lot of calls from disgusted people. Now, she's studying the plan, too.

"There's some obvious flaws in it like the fact there are no trees along the river and a big area of land will be lost. How are we going to handle to stormwater?" she said.

They're all concerns that will likely be answered before the project is approved -- if it's approved.

Daniel and his dogs would rather have things just like they are right now.

"I think a lot of people that's wanting this [development] hardly ever come here," he said.

News 12 also heard from Mayor Lark Jones. He says the land would be developed in a smart way. He says that's what the City of North Augusta is all about. He says the city put Brick Pond Park there in the first place.

However, Jones does admit the ecology could be affected. By the way, the mayor only puts the project's approval at a 50-50 chance right now.

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