No Decision On Riverwalk Tree Cutting Funding - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

No Decision On Riverwalk Tree Cutting Funding

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Augusta, GA -

It's one idea to make Augusta's Riverwalk safer...cut down and cut back a lot of the trees.

"There's 300 that have to be pruned raised up thinned out there's another thirty that has to be removed," says Augusta, Recreation, Parks, and Facilities Department director Bob Levine.

When city leaders toured Riverwalk in June, following a brutal assault a month before, thinning out the trees was considered a top priority to improve visibility.

"We got to get those trees out of there, whether they need to be moved, and those that need to be pruned, of course we prune them back...shrubbery that needs to be moved or relocated or taken out all together...we're going to do that as well," says Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson.

But, the tree project is on hold for now, because of its $180,000 cost.

"We're going to have to find the money. It was something that wasn't anticipated," said Levine.

Last June, it was suggested the money could come from the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

"Do you want DDA to fund the entire $180,000?" we asked Levine. "If they are able to that...would be our first choice," he said.

The DDA is in line for $1.2 million in sales tax money and those funds could be used for Riverwalk trees.

"Is that something you are willing to commit to or can commit to?"we asked DDA director Margaret Woodard. "We have not received our SPLOST funding yet. We're slated to the fourth quarter of this year, or early next year, due to the collection rates," she said.

And even after DDA gets the money, paying for the tree project is still up for debate.

"That will be up to the board. They'll discuss that next week and make a decision," Woodard said. "Would you recommend that?"we asked. "Again, it's up to the board," she said.

"It needs to be done. The trees need to be raised up, everything needs to be opened up down there. It will be a much more inviting place once that happens," Levine said.

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