Augusta leaders, residents hope federal funds will help Riverwalk

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 11:20 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Back in June, Augusta commissioners approved $700,000 for the Riverwalk.

A few weeks ago, they tacked on another $90,000. We met with Augusta Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight to find out why this money is needed.

The Augusta Riverwalk has been top of the list for debate for commissioners over the years. How much funding is needed for safety, cameras, and upkeep?

“This is such a beautiful asset for the city. To see it neglected is really tragic,” said Kevin de l’Aigle.

Longtime Augustan de l’Aigle says the Riverwalk he enjoyed playing on as a child is almost unrecognizable.

“Paving stones that are jacked up, and the weeds, and also trees that have fallen to the river, plantings that are neglected, the erosion and all of that. It’s really gone down. It’s sad because this is sort of the front stoop the front steps of Augusta,” he said.

Commissioners approved a total of $1 million to revitalize the Riverwalk and $700,000 of that ARP funding went strictly to make improvements.

McKnight said: “That money, you know, is going towards some construction and for upgrades and improvements, and it’s going to take that to do it.”

The report shows repairs such as electrical infrastructure safety issues, hazardous conditions, and more are needed. de l’Aigle says without more upkeep funding, the park will only look good during special occasions.

“When the Ironman was happening, and it was looking really spiffy and a Masters weekend looks spiffy, but we’ve got to get it to be a 12 month 24/7 thing, get this cycle going so that it’s not just Masters. It’s not just Ironman. It’s not just Arts in the Heart. But that Augusta’s nice and clean and trim looking, to be the Garden City that it’s known for,” he said.

The extra funds are something McKnight says is desperately needed.

“A lot of people might say, ‘oh, that’s too much money.’ But yet, then you got others who are saying it looks so bad. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. But, you got to have money, this kind of money to put towards upgrades and improvements,” she said.

We have reached out multiple times to Augusta Parks and Rec Director Maurice McDowell about the breakdown of how they plan to spend that most recent $90,000 and what that will look like for upkeep. We haven’t heard back.