They are both old and both face the wrecking ball and some Augusta Commissioners feel these parts of the city’s past do not need to become history.
“Absolutely not, they are very historic buildings…the oldest synagogue in the state of Georgia. It’s important that we look at all avenues before tearing them down,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.
In 2013, the city agreed it would tear down only a portion of the old courthouse, but to do that type of demolition increases the cost by more than $200,000.
Commissioners say they don’t have the money to maintain both old buildings and demolition creates needed space.
“We have no positive alternative, now, other than for those buildings to go because we definitely need the green space and parking,” said Commissioner Bill Lockett.
But, Jack Steinberg is one trying save the buildings. He’s trying to raise the money to create an Augusta Jewish History Museum. But, the city says, while he raises those dollars the group will also need to come up with the money to maintain the buildings while they sit empty.
“We’ll come up with that. We could probably come up with more than that a year during this period we raise the money,” said Steinberg.
Commissioners directed City Administrator Janice Jackson to present options for the costs of keeping both buildings, or just one, and where the extra needed dollars to save them will come from.
“I think the city has got that money in old SPLOST funds. I hope they can come up with that,” said Steinberg.
The future of some old Augusta buildings will depend on that. Meanwhile, a Commission committee tied 2-2 on a vote to change city policy so Augusta could bypass the Historic Preservation Commission when it comes to actions on its buildings. That means the issue goes to the full Commission next week without a recommendation.