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Augusta leaders have decisions to make on abandoned parks

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:30 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta commissioners have decisions to make when it comes to more than a dozen abandoned parks around the city.

Many of them haven’t seen maintenance in years, one being Blount Park in the Sand Hills Neighborhood.

The park is one of 16 labeled “in poor condition.”

At the park, you can see kids haven’t played hoops on this basketball court in a very long time.

It’s the same situation for about 16 other abandoned community parks across the county.

The question is: What do we do with them?

“What would be the best way to remove these from the control of Augusta?” asked Brandon Garrett, commissioner for District 8.

In 2016, the Parks and Recreation Department determined it should be sold as part of the park’s $75 million master plan that surveyed communities.

Since then, it’s still under the city’s ownership and still unused.

“Last count, they told us they had over 60 parks they had to take care of, and in a city our size, that’s a lot of parks,” said Garrett.

Garrett is worried holding on to so many unused parks is just a burden.

“One of the things that really sticks out to me, is the ongoing issues within the parks department. Being able to keep the grass cut during the summers, facilities being kept at the highest level possible, we constantly hear ‘hey there’s not enough money, there’s not enough money’,” he said.

Commissioners voted to hold a workshop in 60 days to discuss where they go with public parks.

Maurice McDowell, Augusta Parks, and Rec director, said: “I’ve had a chance to look at that master plan, it does not correlate to some of what’s happening now.”

McDowell says the pandemic increased the community’s desire for public space, so instead of selling old parks to the highest bidder maybe they can fix them up.

He said he will use the master plan as a guide, but the specifics of it are just too outdated.

“Instead of divesting of city property, I’d like to say let’s repurpose some areas and achieve the same goal of trying to cut operation and maintenance cost,” he said.

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