Augusta Commissioners disagree on rec center debate

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AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – The Augusta City Administrator told Commissioners the issues at Bernie Ward Community Center are being addressed, something Commissioners who toured the center earlier this month say need to be a priority.

“It absolutely needs to be a priority, because the state that it was in. there needs to be something to try and get them some assistance over there. They’re talking about putting a crew over there to get the floors cleaned and see where you go from there,” says Commissioner Ben Hasan.

Two weeks ago, Bernie Ward’s Director Stan Brown came before the commission committee, saying many safety and maintenance problems he’s raised with the recreation department at Bernie Ward were not being addressed,

Some commissioners are critical of Brown’s approach, saying this isn’t how complaints should be raised.

“When you start ridiculing directors, the people you rely on, the people you hire for their experience, and ridicule them on the floor I have a problem,” says Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

But some Commissioners had a problem with Bernie Ward being in such poor condition, especially when compared Warren Road Center. Some commissioners didn’t think pitting the two community centers against one another was helpful.

“Look at the problem, that’s what counts about fixing something, just because where it’s located, and splash some money on top of it I don’t think that’s fair,” said Commissioner Grady Smith.

But others commissioners say the department isn’t being fair to Bernie Ward because its director spoke out.

“All of us know in the work place, when you have an employee who’s not afraid to speak up, there are repercussions. So I see it more as not attending to the needs that he’s requesting but ultimately the center and community suffers,” says Commissioner Hasan.

Parks and Recreation officials suggest spending about $3300 on painting Bernie Ward, and $6000 on steam cleaning, to get the center in shape. They also say that right now Bernie Ward has a temp worker doing maintenance, however city officials say it’s getting it’s own maintenance worker who should be on the job in two weeks.

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