First responder rehab center stirs concerns for Augusta neighbors

Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The neighbors in Green Meadows say they’re tired of the long, drawn-out battle with the Hale Foundation over the first responder rehab center.

Even though the Hale Foundation is making accommodations, neighbors say it’s too little, too late.

Ahead of the next commission meeting, both advocates and adversaries for the Valor Station Rehab Center are pleading to commissioners for their vote.

On Saturday, first responders gathered in support of the center. On Monday, the Green Meadows community held a neighborhood rally.

“This issue centers on the location of a drug treatment facility and not on those who would be treated,” Green Meadows resident Roberta Thatcher said.

The community was joined by local organizations like the Baptist Minister's Conference of Augusta and the Hope Organization.

State Sen. Harold Jones also spoke out in support of the community.

“I think it would be quite a travesty if elected officials in or community actually don’t listen to the residents of this community,” Jones said.

The Hale Foundation has made changes to the original plan. The latest tweak is an alternate entrance, so those going to the rehab center don’t go through the neighborhood.

But neighbors say that's not enough.

“There are 14 properties that share a property line with that facility,” Green Meadows resident Deborah Bunch said. “Most of them are only separated by a chain-link fence. Some don’t even have that.”

“It wouldn’t matter to us if they accessed it by helicopter, we don’t want it in our neighborhood,” Clarence Kendrick, another resident, said.

While the Hale Foundation has jumped through a few hoops to try to get Green Meadows on board, but the community says there's no hoop that would change the bottom line: they feel their residential neighborhood is no place for a rehab center.

“I will not say that it would be impossible for us to come to an agreement of some sort, but it’s tough for me to think of a scenario that would work,” Bunch said.

One person that spoke today suggested building a brick wall between the center and the neighborhood. That was met with mostly negative reactions, as neighbors say that wouldn’t help either.

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