The Augusta Commission’s take on being “corporate friendly”

The Augusta Commission’s take on being “corporate friendly”

Everyone in Augusta seems thrilled over the fact that Cabela’s, the new 42,000-square-foot store featuring hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, is headed to the Village at Riverwatch next spring.

In order to help pump up people’s knowledge of the new store, representatives of Cabela’s apparently requested that the city rename part of Alexander Drive to Cabela Drive.

At first, some commissioners had concerns over the proposal.

“If this is approved, I think we should go back and where Starbucks is located make a Starbucks Avenue,” Augusta Commissioner Bill Lockett jokingly told his colleagues during their recent discussion over the proposal. “And we should make an ADP Boulevard and Augusta National… well, I haven’t come up with a designation for it, yet.”

Lockett said that if the city agreed to Cabela’s request, the planning and development department would be flooded with similar requests from every business in town.

“I don’t believe this is a road we want to go down, especially at this particular time,” Lockett said.

City Administrator Fred Russell said that the planning department has checked with all the other property owners in that area and they did not object to changing the road name.

“They didn’t have a problem with it, including Costco,” Russell said.

Marques Perry, a GIS Addressing Specialist from the city’s Information Technology Department, said the city also checked the historical significance of Alexander Drive and determined that Cabela’s request was appropriate for about 600 feet of the drive leading up to the new store’s location.

Terri Turner, the assistant zoning and development administrator for the city’s Planning and Development Department, said the only cost to the city would be to replace one road sign leading up to the store.

Lockett joked that if changing a road’s name is that easy, everyone will be doing it.

“I’ve lived on my street for over 30 years, so I want to put in a request to name it Lockett Boulevard,” Lockett said, chuckling.

It appeared the city staff had convinced the commission to approve Cabela’s request for a name change, but then Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy came up with another suggestion.

“Could we rename that portion of Alexander Drive something like Costco Cabela Drive?” Fennoy asked.

The rest of the commission was silent.

Was Fennoy serious? Unfortunately, he was absolutely dead serious.

Does he need to take a Business 101 class?

Most corporations don’t like being directly associated with another company, especially on something as permanent as a road name. What if one of the companies was hit by a scandal? Or, better yet, what if one of them went bankrupt and closed?

Then, Augusta would have to rename the road again or live with a sign that would always signify a company’s failure.

Fortunately, Fennoy’s fellow commissioners realized shoving two companies together on one sign was not the best business move.

Instead, the commission moved to approve the renaming of that small portion of the Alexander Drive.

But there was one last problem.

“Is it Cabela or Cabela’s Drive?” Fennoy asked.

The mayor said the commission should approve whatever was on Cabela’s formal request.

But Perry explained that the company had originally requested Cabela’s Drive, but the city had to turn down that request.

“The Augusta-Richmond County IT GIS department is no longer allowing special characters, like apostrophes, in our road names because it causes issues from a database standpoint,” he said. “So Cabela’s agreed to drop the ‘s’ and the apostrophe and name it Cabela Drive.”

In the end, the commission unanimously voted to change the road to Cabela Drive.

So, Cabela’s didn’t get completely what it wanted, but at least it’s a lot better than Costco Cabela Drive.

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