Debate over 'skywalk' for TEE Center could affect management deal

The TEE Center could have a bridge that crosses over Reynolds Street. (WRDW-TV)

The TEE Center could have a bridge that crosses over Reynolds Street. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 First at Five / Monday, Jan. 7, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The management deal already approved for the TEE Center parking deck could be in jeopardy.

It turns out the city promised the management company they would build a skywalk, but commissioners have voted against the funding for it. So, it may be back to square one.

Commissioner Bill Lockett says, "I think that maybe sometime a bridge to nowhere may be necessary, but not now."

But, Darryl Leech, the general manager of the Augusta Marriott, disagrees, saying, "We think it's a great idea. We think it would be in the best interest of the center, would be an advantage over some of the other cities we compete with."

And so a familiar argument returns. The vote for a million-dollar skywalk between the Augusta Convention Center and parking deck made it back on the commission agenda.

If this vote feels like deja vu, then you're exactly right. The commission has been here several times before, just last month, nixing the vote for the bridge.

But it turns out, the no vote last month could affect a management deal already approved for the parking deck.

"When we decided to go with the management company for the parking deck, the original motion there included the building of the parking crosswalk there," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

The group in charge of operating the parking deck isn't too happy about the change of plans.

"We agreed that we would take a lesser fee, and he would propose in the motion that we would get the bridge," said Manager Paul Simon.

"There was a commitment there, they voted not to do it, and what I'm looking for today, is OK, if we're not going to do it, what do you want me to say? Where do we go?" Russell said.

But some commissioners say they don't want to budge on the issue.

"If you bring it before the commission one time, it's voted down, we keep bringing it back and back and back expecting a different result," Lockett said.

The committee could not reach a decision, so they will send it to commission without a recommendation.

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