Augusta, GA -
History could soon come back to life on the streets of Downtown Augusta.That’s what some people in the community are working to do.The Laney Walker/Bethlehem revitalization project will revive the two historic African American neighborhoods that organizers believe many people have forgotten throughout the years.
The larger Augusta community shared their ideas for one portion of the one thousand acre project.The group focused on constructing a heritage trial that would highlight history makers and other aspects of life that helped shape the community.
Director of Housing and Community Development, Chester Wheeler, said, “The first component is to develop, identify those major places and people who used to be here.”
Wheeler added that the trail would sever local and out of town people.
“It’s going to allow people who come to Augusta for tourism opportunities, to take advantage of the rich history by having a walking trail and a vehicular trail.So, people can go through these two neighborhoods, learn about the rich history and take it back home,” Wheeler said.
The Laney Walker Bethlehem revitalization project, which began about five years ago, is estimated at around 100 million dollars, with 100 to 200 thousand dollars going on the trail.For now, all ideas are welcome.
“We don’t have a preconceived idea.We don’t have a notion that says yeah we’re going to go this way.We don’t have a preconceived area.We know we want it in Laney Walker/Bethlehem. We know we want it to include historic areas,” said David Simoneau, the senior project manager with Cranston Engineering Group.
Another speaker stated, “There are ways to do interpretation these days that’s more than just a plaque or a sign or a very handsome monument or a piece of artwork on the ground and that’s this [cell phone].”
Those in attendance looked at maps, placing markers at locations that should be included on the trail.
“Oh, yeah my grandmamma used to live or when my great, great granddaddy was,” Simoneau said.
Dennis Williams, who lives in south Augusta, attended the event to share his ideas. He said the trail will benefit current and future generations.
“For our young people to learn about what benefits and what contributions we’ve made to the development of this community,” said Williams.
The heritage trail is not set in stone.Organizers said these are the beginning stages.To learn more about the project and share your ideas, visit the official website.