Mills Project Consultant: "Save The A" An Embarrassment - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Mills Project Consultant: "Save The A" An Embarrassment

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Augusta, GA -

Matthew Kwatinetz, the Executive Director of the Augusta Regional Collaboration Project is the man city leaders are using to help persuade Georgia Regents University (GRU) and the University System of Georgia Board or Regents to expand to two historic mills and downtown.

"The intent of the Commisison was to try and support the University, support growth of the university and do what we can to be a partner in it," says Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson.

On the Internet, we found this, "The Augusta Regional Collaboration Projects GRU presentation by Matthew Kwatinetz". It contains the city's proposal for the "Mills Campus", and the downtown "Cultural Campus".

But, it's also says this: "Following the embarrassment of the 'Save the A', the Augusta Commission held closed door sessions to analyze how to best address directly reaching out the newly formed to support GRU."

So, based on the presentation, Augusta Commissioners met in secret to discuss being embarrassed by the 'Save the A' campaign.

"I didn't see that presentation," said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, when he we showed him a copy of it. "You were not aware of that?" we asked. "Apparently not," said Guilfoyle.

"Was that an embarrassment to this community, were those folks embarrassing?" we asked Commissioner Grady Smith. "I don't think so," he answered.

"Was there embarrassment, were Commissioners embarrassed by it?"we asked Johnson. "No," he answered. "Why would this be in there?" we asked. "I don't know, I can't even.." he answered.

Kwatinetz would know, as his name is on the presentation, but he was too busy to discuss it before speaking at a luncheon. "This was the presentation to GRU, in March?," we asked. "I don't have anything to say, right now, because I'm preparing for a presentation, but I really appreciate your time," said Kwatinetz.

But, what also might embarrass city leaders is...if they went behind closed door to talk about reaching out to GRU, that would be a violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Law.

"Closed door session to reach out to GRU violates the Open Meetings Law," we said to Mayor Deke Copenhaver. "I'm not going to comment on it," he answered.

"All this stuff...that Commissioners met in closed-door sessions to talk about that embarrassment, no that was not the case. I don't know where the information comes from, but it was nowhere near like that," said Johnson.

City leaders dismissed the report as happening in the past, but in June, Commissioners approved $300,000 for the Augusta Regional Collaboration Project, and those dollars remain to be spent, so taxpayers have a stake and how the project is going about its work.

The University System of Georgia has approved hiring master planners that will begin work next month on a study of expanding GRU, that will include the Mills Project and the Downtown Cultural Campus.

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