Downtown Advisory Panel Trying to Come Back

AUGUSTA — A downtown Augusta group is trying to revive itself after being inactive for more than a year.

The Downtown Advisory Panel is supposed to solve problems in the downtown area, but it needs more members to make that happen.

The DAP was created in 2003 by the Augusta Commission, but during the last few years, it hasn’t met much.

The panel’s chairman is hoping to change that.

“The Downtown Advisory Panel was created because the Central Business District has a unique set of problems,” Brad Owens said.

Owens is trying to get support from the Augusta Commission to make the DAP active again.

“We have some empty slots. We have people bringing issues to us, but we don’t have a full board because some folks have moved away and there have been some resignations,” Owens said.

Right now, there are only a few active members on the panel.

Mike Walraven used to be on the board, but he moved to Waynesboro.

“And so the problem is that it’s not fair for me as the chairman to call a meeting with 3 active members and make decisions for all of the stakeholders downtown,” Owens said.

The DAP met a lot in 2012, after a shooting happened in downtown Augusta on First Friday, but since then, Owens says it’s been difficult to get the board together.

“Because the DAP is a very useful group if it’s used properly. If it’s dormant and not making recommendations, not meeting, and not getting problems from the stakeholders, then we can’t do anything about it,” Owens said.

Owens says business owners want the city to create an ordinance that would require pet owners to clean up their pet’s waste in downtown Augusta. There are other issues being considered as well.

“I think there’s some issues that have come out recently with parking. I think we probably should take a look at that. Other issues would be hours of operation. And safety and security is always a consideration,” Owens said.

Owens says he wants the panel to eventually hold meetings every month.

Commissioners will talk about the DAP next month.

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