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Commission roundup: Discussing managing city recreation centers, plans for Soul Festival

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 10:49 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta commissioners are looking into concerns about private organizations running city-owned community centers.

The operations at the Eastview, Jamestown and WT Johnson Community Center are currently in question.

In the past, the city of Augusta has always formed agreements with outside organizations for how these centers will be operated.

Now, some commissioners want to review these agreements, and possibly change the relationship with the organizations, to allow the city to have control over the operations of these centers.

The city administrator suggested the city would take control of these center operations next January if the commission votes to move forward. He told commissioners Tuesday that the budget from the Parks and Recreation Department budget has the ability to cover costs of center operations and staffing.

He says the city will probably be able to reallocate more funds in the upcoming budget back to the Parks and Recreation Department.

District 4 Commissioner Alvin Mason alluded to money mishandling allegations against former Commissioner Sammie Sias while he was operating the Jamestown Community Center.

Mason argued that the commission should push to restore transparency and expectations in the agreements.

District 7 Commissioner Sean Frantom told the commission he’s not sure if he can agree with changing the relationship because the private organizations “know their community.” He says maybe only if the facilities can’t manage operations and provide services the city should take over.

The Parks and Recreation Department also agreed that it would possibly work better if the centers are ran by the city government, but also did not completely dissolve the relationship with the private organizations.

Commission agreed to have the department give a full presentation about the transitioning process and costs at a later date.

Soul Festival

Plans are in the works for an Augusta Soul Festival paying tribute to James Brown. The Convention and Visitors Bureau has asked the Augusta Commission for $100,000 to put towards the festival.

The money would be allocated from the Parks and Recreation Department 2019 budget and be used to help find talent for the festival.

There are not many details about plans yet, but the goal is for this to be a multi-day festival and would be planned to happen in May next year, around James Brown’s birthday.

The bureau is looking to hold it at the Lake Olmstead Stadium.

The full commission will vote on the idea and plans next week.

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