Four years ago, Marion Williams was running for his former District 2 commission seat against incumbent commissioner Corey Johnson and he suggested what many thought was an “insane” idea.
During his campaign in 2010, Williams walked down Kent Street in the inner city and pointed to the home of a former principal of Lucy Laney High School who passed away a few years ago.
“This was a really affluent neighborhood at one time,” he said. “But, now, look at the bars on the windows. Look how people are living. It’s a shame.”
On one side of the road was a house with a beautifully manicured lawn, a garden and sturdy fence around the property.
Next door was a shell of a home that no longer had a roof and a tree was growing up through the middle of the house.
“That house has been burned out for years, but no one is doing anything about it,” Williams said in 2010. “And this property owner has had to look at it every day.”
Like many of Williams’ ideas, he believed the problem of overgrown lots could be solved by thinking out of the box.
“I’ve seen in Atlanta and other cities, they take a herd of goats and put them in a place that is fenced in and they eat up the vegetation,” he said in 2010. “The goat is the only animal you don’t have to buy food for. They eat everything.”
People thought it was an absolutely absurd idea, but Williams insisted it had been proven successful in other cities.
“We need some new ideas. District 2 needs a voice,” he said. “District 2 needs help. All of the money goes to one side of town and District 2 doesn’t get it. We need to make sure that we are spending money fairly.”
When Williams presented these ideas to voters four years ago, they laughed at his suggestions and overwhelmingly supported his opponent, Corey Johnson, by more than 65 percent at the polls.
But now Williams is having the last laugh.
The Augusta Commission on Thursday approved a pilot project that would purchase a small herd of goats to maintain the vegetation in a few of Augusta’s fenced detention ponds for the low price of $500.
The city’s engineering department told commissioners that they were swamped with trying to maintain their detention ponds and needed all the help they could get.
What better help than from a goat?
You don’t have to pay a salary, they eat everything in sight and there is minimum cost to maintaining them.
Is it a crazy idea?
But it might be so crazy it will work. This is Augusta, after all.
And, of course, Augusta wouldn’t expect anything less from Commissioner Marion Williams.