“We need to hold onto that and use it. I don’t think we need to let it sit there. We need to make some use out of it. We need an amphitheater, we need someplace to host events.”Commissioner Marion Williams
“Since 1994 when that stadium was built, there’s a reason there haven’t been many events there: traffic, ingress-egress, the topography of the facility.”Commissioner Sean Frantom
The lo-fi Lake Olmstead Stadium was built by RW Allen in 1993 for the paltry sum of $4.2 million, or 7.2 million in today’s dollars. The recently constructed SRP Park in North Augusta carried a price tag of $43 million.
Needless to say, Lake Olmstead Stadium is no great shakes. Three grandstands essentially are the stadium, three basic structures each with 15 rows of aluminum bleachers.
The Greenjackets played their last game there in 2017. The team’s gleaming new stadium now looms over the Savannah River, easily visible from downtown Augusta.
Now it appears the jilted Augusta Commission, who lost the team without trying very hard to keep it, may be throwing money around like a drunken sailor on shore leave to prove how little it cares.
During a March 26th administrative committee meeting, the commission unanimously approved awarding a contract not to exceed $85,450 to Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. for advisory and support services related to conversion of the Lake Olmstead Minor League Stadium into an Amphitheater.
According to city staff, “this particular RFQ was solicited to secure a firm that will meet with this particular body in a smaller setting to understand what your vision is and understand what you want the amphitheater to look like.
As you know, staff can only articulate so far what your vision is and so we would love to have members of this body be present during those conversations to set the path forward on how it will look in the long run.”
That’s in the RF Q, meeting with the commissioners, getting their vision? Hasan asked.
“Yes sir, it’s actually task one.”
That right there is called “Job Security”.
This spring city employees discovered the 6,000 square foot $200,000 deck constructed for the 2006 season by Ripken Baseball was improperly constructed and posing a safety concern.
The enormous deck, which was originally constructed with composite decking boards and a wooden foundation, runs alongside what once was the first base line, features a concession stand and has a 400 person capacity.
The commission was given three choices concerning the repair of the deck: tear down the entire structure and start from scratch for around $250,000. Hire an outside company to repair it for $75,000, or the city itself could repair the deck using staff on payroll for $25,000.
No one discussed reducing the size of the enormous structure. Is there a legitimate need for that much freshly laid pine, all alone and baking in the hot Georgia sun? Insiders think not.
Although the city had already secured another study, one that will offer suggestions on what to do with the park, the powers that be did not hold off on dumping taxpayer dollars into the empty park’s “patio deck”, even as they were informed in no uncertain terms there is a good chance the deck will not be in the future plans of the stadium.
During an April 16th commission meeting Commissioner Marion Williams wanted to make sure the deck repair had been pushed through using emergency status.
“Based on the event coming up that we got that barbeque that’s going to be early part of May? And I know this is what it is going to take to go ahead and do what needs to be done where it’s going to meet emergency status from the procurement department.” Williams stated he didn’t want the repair to get tied up in ‘politics’.
“Per the code, it has been acknowledged that it is a safety concern and can be viewed as an emergency” was the staff reply.
According to minutes from the April 16th commission meeting, “Since the departure of the Augusta Green Jackets the deck has continued to warp and deteriorate and could pose future safety hazards. In accordance with Section 1-10-57 the CSD-FM Division proceeded to repair the Lake Olmstead patron deck as an emergency, per the attached approval.”
“On March 19, 2019 the Board of Commissioners determined that an emergency exists at the Lake Olmstead patron deck. The condition of the deck presented a safety hazard to the public. Due to the project scope of work required and time constraints; T. R. Hoover Construction was selected as the most qualified vendor to complete the deck repair within the allotted time frame for $75,000.00.”
Unfortunately for the taxpayers of Augusta, the city’s rush to repair the deck has left it in worse shape than before. The deck repair is so shoddy, Insiders in the construction industry were floored when images of the work were shown. One local contractor said was “completely wrong” and has a zero percent chance of passing inspection, and found so many code violations it seems the initial investment of $75,000 to “repair” a deck that was improperly constructed in the first place is just the beginning.
Insiders say a structure that large, with the intent of being used commercially, would require written plans as well as drawings, neither of which occured.
A quick glance under the structure reveals a twenty five foot long ramp not connected properly. The entire weight of the four foot wide structure is supported entirely by nails, not a bolt or ground support in sight.
The lack of basic acceptable construction techniques leaves the deck now in worse shape than before. The commission, in it’s rush to make decisions with taxpayer money, has blown $75,000-and soon much more, to build a deck that arguably shouldn’t even be there in the first place.