Tuesday night, we told you the Aiken County School Board approved its part of the financing plan for the $150 million dollar project to rebuild the North Augusta Riverfront. But that's just the first hurdle.
North Augusta city leaders say there is still more work to be done. And even though many Project Jackson supporters felt like the school board's vote was the biggest obstacle in the way, it is still going to be a long time before the GreenJackets move to North Augusta.
Riverclub President Steve Donohue has been fighting Project Jackson since it was first announced... and even though plans are moving forward, he hasn't given up yet.
"I would liken it to a war and they won the first skirmish. If you want to fashion it that way," Donohue says.
Supporters and opponents still have plenty of time to make their cases before the scheduled Spring 2015 opening of the new GreenJackets' stadium.
There are several steps that need to happen before Project Jackson can happen. The first step is to get the approval of the Aiken County Council.
If the council approves the financing plan, then the city of North Augusta will have to have a public hearing on Project Jackson. Then a city ordinance will have to be written. Then contracts need to be drawn up. Bonds need to be issued. The project is then put out for bids. Then there is planning and designing. And then construction begins. Meanwhile, Donohue and others are asking questions about developer Chris Schoen, whose work on a baseball stadium in Fort Wayne has caused some controversy.
"He was two years behind on the project. He wouldn't deliver any information. He wouldn't deliver any updates. The city council ended up fining him 2.4 million dollars. Eventually, he got some financing. The stadium got built, but not without a lot of frustration," Donohue says.
That information lead one Aiken County School Board member to vote against the financing plan on Tuesday night, however, Glover says the city knows about Schoen's work in Fort Wayne and his current lawsuit with Bank of America.
"The developer didn't walk away from his obligations. What the lawsuit is actually about is about the value of collateral," North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover says.
But Donohue says the city should reconsider its plans.
"Use your own money, sometimes you might be willing to take the risk. You meet the guy, you think he might have some reasonable explanations, but now you're dealing with the taxpayers money," Donohue says.
The Aiken County Council is meeting Tuesday night. North Augusta City Leaders will present the financing plan to the council then.
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