Public Safety Should Be Priority Over "The Patch", Augusta Commi - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Public Safety Should Be Priority Over "The Patch", Augusta Commissioners Say

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Augusta, GA -

Ben Wood is one golfer who would like to see First Tee take over at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, otherwise known as "The Patch".

"Some extra hands out here would probably be a great idea. The course has always been a good little layout, never been quite able to get in perfect shape," said Wood, as he teed off on hole number 1.

But, under the proposal from First Tee, to get the course in shape would cost more than $2 million and the city would to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fully staff the golf course to allow First Tee to manage it.

There is the potential the city could make some green, but it's going to take money to make money. Meanwhile, Sheriff Richard Roundtree has come before Augusta Commissioners with a proposal for more police protection downtown and more security cameras.

Commissioner Mary Davis says public safety needs to be the priority over the city spending at "The Patch". "Why not look again to leasing, or a possible purchase of 'The Patch' and put those funds we've been spending on 'The Patch' into extra safety for downtown and Augusta," said Davis.

Other Commissioners even have a name for it.

"Patch to police program, privatizing 'The Patch' and using that money...the income, the revenue from that to provide the cameras," says Commissioner Joe Jackson.

Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson doesn't like pitting the patch against public safety.

"If we need to find a different funding source, or steam if you will, we need to do that, but I'm not going to say let's take money from this entity to fund this entity. No, I mean that's how you end up in bankruptcy," said Johnson.

"I would say maybe 50-50 there, you can't sacrifice police protection for an entertainment type thing but I can't see why 'The Patch' can't continue to survive and hopefully thrive," said Wood.

Commissioners voted to move forward with the Sheriff's downtown security proposal, but at this point, City Administrator Fred Russell says he has not found a source of money to pay for the security cameras.

Johnson has a suggestion, though. Instead of using money from "The Patch", use the money the city was going to spend building the pedestrian sky walk from the Reynolds Street parking deck to the TEE Center.

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