Augusta looks at costs to tear down troubled boathouse

Demolition of the mold-infested Augusta Boathouse is officially on the table.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 3:52 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Demolition of the mold-infested Augusta Boathouse is officially on the table.

Augusta Commission members on Tuesday asked the city staff for an estimate of demolition costs.

Last week, commissioners heard about an almost $6 million estimate to completely fix up the facility, including making repairs to the outside decking, rails and completely remodeling the inside kitchen, floors, and bathrooms.

Mold spread into the building after a pipe broke during winter.

Four commissioners on Tuesday – Alvin Mason, Catherine Smith McKnight, Sean Frantom, and Brandon Garrett – voiced their concern about money to remediate the mold, suggesting the building shouldn’t get money for mold removal if it could potentially be destroyed.

“Tear it down,” Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said.

The Augusta Central Services Department says it’s probably best to prioritize looking for a new spot for the rowing club, use SPLOST 7 money totaling $580,000 to get rebuilding estimates and look to SPLOST 9 for funds for a new boathouse.

That would be a five-year project with potentially no boathouse.

The commission told the Augusta Parks and Recreation Department to get some estimates on the cost of demolition and to return with the numbers in 30 days. It could be five to seven years before we see anything built in its place.

“This boat house issue has been getting worse and worse and worse,” said Augusta Rowing Club Head Coach Brad Holdren.

Holdren is frustrated with Tuesday’s unanimous push to look at estimates for demolishing this mold-ridden building because a new facility may not come for as many years as he’s been coaching.

“People not even interested in coming to try and row now because they’re just thinking that the boat house will be gone, and then the club will be gone,” he said.

For city leaders, it’s about weighing the cost to get rid of the mold and do a complete renovation.

District 4 Commissioner Alvin Mason said: “The building is old. It’s in disrepair if you ask me.”

District 8 Commissioner Brandon Garrett said: “It’s probably a very good idea we pause here and make sure we do take care of the rowing club.”

Mayor Garnett Johnson said: “I’m really excited.”

Despite this pivot, Holdren is still determined to keep the rowing club alive.

“We’re not going to let the demolition of this building, the problems with this building, we’re not going to let any political problems slow us down,” he said.