Update on renovations and upkeep plans for the Boathouse in Augusta

The lease the rowing club signed 30 years ago says the rowing club is responsible for the building’s upkeep.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 5:12 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - From pipes to the deck to a new paint job, the Augusta Boathouse needs some T.L.C.

The question is who will pay for it. City leaders can help financially but are not legally held to it.

We know that the city owns the Boathouse and that it’s currently leased to the Augusta Rowing Club. But everyone from commissioners, Parks and Rec, and Central Services isn’t clear if they have to help keep it up.

City Attorney Wayne Brown read out the lease, which states that it’s the rowing club’s job to keep it up but that the city can still help.

Central Services then laid out an estimate for building damages to the inner pipework, the decking, pillars, and paint that could be a $2.5 to 3 million fix if the city wants to chip in.

Regardless, anything is on the table.

“In order to get it back, in my opinion, to a state where it would be what I call a ‘world-class facility’, it requires a lot of work. It would be my opinion, and this is just my opinion, I don’t speak for the will of the commission, that we raze that facility and start over with something new and fresh. That really gives us an opportunity down in District 1 and down on our river to make our city look well as well as make the citizens of Augusta proud,” said Mayor Garnett Johnson.

The commission didn’t move on anything, saying they want to cut through the confusion in the next few weeks.

Augusta Rowing Club Head Coach Brad Holdren said: “I was a little confused. I know we don’t have $3 million to fix the building. I know that much.”

Holdren has been running the rowing club for the past eight years. The lease the rowing club signed 30 years ago says the rowing club is responsible for the building’s upkeep.

“If they try to hang the whole repair of the boat house on us, we’ll just close,” he said. “It would be very sad for the club and for the city, but no, we can’t foot that kind of bill.”

It all stems from a Christmas pipe burst that flooded the facility and left nothing but a laundry list of repairs and mold in its path.

He says the city decided to turn the heat off, leading to the burst pipes, and should be their responsibility to help fix the mess. The money has the mayor considering everything, even scrapping the whole building and starting from scratch.

“There’s a lot of interest in events that occur on our river. Everything from Ironman. I recall many years ago that facility used to be used for wedding receptions, for meetings, and I’d like to get back to that,” said Johnson.

A lot of history that’s up in the air.

Holdren said: “People training out of this boat house, we’ve got three Olympic silver medals in the last 30 years here. To me, personally, it’s everything.”