Over the past few weeks, the Metro Spirit staff and The Insider have spent a lot of time and taken up a great deal of space in the paper covering the conversations surrounding the future site of the proposed $120 million James Brown Arena in Augusta.
The paper has highlighted commissioners’ views on the arena, covered the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority meetings, talked to the experts involved in ranking the sites, reviewed the offers made by the owners of Regency Mall and tried to understand why Mayor Hardie Davis feels so strongly about building the new arena in south Augusta.
Despite what some readers may think, it’s not because he’s rich or he’s white or he’s from a prominent Augusta family. It’s because he has a proven track record of success throughout this community (including south Augusta) and he’s not afraid to speak out against an idea he feels so strongly against.
Say what you will about Boardman, but he isn’t turning his back on south Augusta. In fact, just this past week, he wrote to the Augusta Commission offering some help.
The following is Boardman’s letter last week to commissioners:
Most of you know how I feel about the arena location and I appreciate your courageous vote in favor of “calling the question” on the ill-fated discussions with the Regency Mall owners. They appear to be “bad owners” who don’t have a concern for Augusta and have been bad stewards of their property for many years. There are many possible solutions for what could be at Regency Mall, but it will require investment on the owner’s part and I have little hope that they will ever come through. They seem to want a free ride and blank check from the City — heck, all of us would like the same deal! Should you ever want to form a very small group to approach these owners and press for a solution to better utilize the property, I would be happy to help. There are many ideas out there to redevelop the property, but an arena as the starting point is ill-advised.
I do want to ensure that you know that I am not anti-south Augusta. As I have stated before, my most valuable asset is in south Augusta and I worked a block away from the mall for 14 years and still own property near the mall. Its redevelopment would be very welcomed by me civically and personally. Last Tuesday when I was meeting with the Mayor and Ed Tarver, I suggested that if the City wanted to make an investment in south Augusta, that I would certainly be interested in designing a list of targeted, strategic investments by the City to make the area more inviting, more receptive to investors. A SPLOST-like targeted list of investment initiatives financed by the City could be developed with input from the community in south Augusta and Augusta as a whole. I want south Augusta to succeed – it is part of “my” Augusta and all of Augusta is important to me. We have invested tens of millions in Laney-Walker/Bethlehem, downtown and other areas in an effort to jumpstart their rebirth. It may be time to add additional focus to the south side of the City. I am happy to help in this effort if you wish.
I appreciate your help yesterday in doing what’s right for all of Augusta. You should be proud as I am. I am also thankful for your courage to do the right thing. That is leadership and is something that has been missing at certain times in Augusta. Thank you for that.
Kind regards and many wishes for a happy Thanksgiving for you and your families.
Believe it or not, Boardman cares about Augusta. All of Augusta. So much so that he is willing to volunteer his time to help jumpstart growth in south Augusta.
He’s not all talk. He’s taking action.
The Augusta Commission and all Richmond County residents should hear him out.
Boardman doesn’t want to bury south Augusta. He wants to bring it back to life.