News 12 at Six o'clock, May 31, 2007.
Augusta, GA---It was a tough blow for Augusta's Golf Half of Fame and Botanical Gardens after Governor Sonny Perdue slashed its budget for 2008. What was once hoped to be a blooming attraction is now in limbo with state money sucked dry.
"It's a beautiful place to have things, and it'd be a shame to see it go," said resident Margaret Ann Smith. But it could be the beginning of the end for the Golf Hall of Fame after Governor Sonny Perdue cut a $634,000 budget the general assembly had allocated to the Gardens.
"You never like to see cuts. I'm disappointed, but these things happen," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.
Back in April, executive director Dianne King made it clear that the gardens' budget wasn't in the green and without public funding from the state they'd be forced to shut its doors as early as June.
"Maintenance alone is $500,000 a year, and we've been trying to cut expenses," she said.
But Mayor Deke Copenhaver says he's not ready to call it quits just yet. "I wouldn't say they'd have to close because there are other funding sources being looked at right now I'm just not ready to talk about it yet," he said.
The mayor and other leaders are hoping a pitch by the GreenJackets to move their stadium downtown will help defray the overhead of the Botanical Gardens. "The goal of the downtown stadium is not only to bring the stadium, but it is now and always has been a facility to house the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. There's no ifs ands or buts about it, and that's still how we're proceeding," Copenhaver said.
Chairman of the board Bryan Persons released this statement to News 12:
"Our board and staff are tremendously disappointed that Governor Sonny Perdue chose to veto our funding from the 2008 budget. By the middle of next week we will issue a formal statement on our future plans. That is all the comments I have at this time."