The Augusta Planning Department is getting ready to move and that will leave the old synagogue building empty and the new IT Department building is ready leaving the old one no longer needed and city leaders say it’s too costly keep and maintain the soon to be empty structures.
“Your citizenship already has decided they don’t want to pay any more taxes, so where are the funds coming from?” asked Commissioner Dennis Williams.
Augusta’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is on record as opposing the total demolition of both building, as well as city leaders changing its ordinance so the city no longer has to go before the HPC when it wants to tear down one of its buildings.
“It just means there’s no checks and balances for that type of thing. We just lose things we can’t get back,” said Erick Montgomery, who is executive director of Historic Augusta.
The city created the Urban Redevelopment Agency to issue the bonds to pay for renovations of the Augusta Municipal Building and the demolition of only a part of the courthouse annex.
Former Mayor Bob Young chairs the Urban Redevelopment Agency and he says his agency should have been consulted about the city’s plans to tear down the buildings.
Under a signed agreement, the agency will own the buildings on the Municipal Building site until the renovations are completed.
“They are trying to tear down a building that we technically own, which wasn’t part of the original scope of work for which the money was borrowed and given to the city,” said Young. “So you should have a say in this?” we asked. “We would hope so, we would think so. If somebody would come and tear down your house, don’t you think you would like to be consulted?” answered Young.
Facing about two dozen opponents of tearing down the buildings and changing the city code, Commissioners voted Tuesday to send the issues back to committee for additional discussion.
Former Mayor Young said he has made it clear to city leaders that he would like his group to be in on those discussions.