North Augusta Officials Pitching New Baseball Stadium Plan

Project Jackson has been in the works since December when North
Augusta and Augusta Greenjackets officials announced they want to move the team
across the river to a new development next to Hammond's Ferry. But now there
could be something new in the works.

North
Augusta City Officials made their second Project Jackson pitch to school board
members on Tuesday night. But again, the opposition was there to swing away at
the idea of using school money for a baseball park.

“Maybe
if they were building a children's hospital I might say okay. Or an orphanage,
maybe that makes sense, but lets use school money for schools, let's not be
building stadiums,” says Riverclub Homeowner Association President Steve Donahue.

School
board members asked several questions about the new TIF plan. One of the members
even mentioned that he thought the city could come back with a third and better
option. North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover says they will do whatever they can to
make Project Jackson happen.

“Well
I think they certainly raised some additional questions and that leaves room
for negotiation and we are
open to that and we said that all along. We are willing to sit down and look
for a partnership with them. We will negotiate and come to an agreement,” says Glover.

The new
TIF plan includes a lower public investment of 42 million dollars, while the
developer will have to put up about 125 million. Glover says there are other
changes in the plan that should ease the concerns of school board members.

“We
reduced the proposed participation of the school district from 30 years to 15
years. And then we've also eliminated any funding from the school district
going towards the stadium. I think those are the two biggest changes we made in
the funding model,” says Glover.

But not
everyone agrees with the new plan.

“As they old saying goes, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. It
hasn't gotten any better,” says Donahue.

The Aiken County School Board and the Aiken County Council will have to approve
the new TIF plan before Project Jackson can move forward.

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