Some Augusta neighborhoods could change due to growth

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Some Augusta neighborhoods could see changes after growth charted in the 2020 Census. An Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee voted Monday night on a map that would move some of Augusta’s neighborhoods to different districts.

For instance, District 3 Commissioner Catherine McKnight said people who live on McDowell Street will end up in three different districts, to include 1, 2 and 3. It’s one of many neighborhoods in Summerville and Forest Hills changing from District 3 to Districts 1 or 2 due to growth.

“Taking a box and dumping out the pieces and then not putting them back and trying to figure out a way to put it back is just disappointing,” McKnight said comparing the process to a puzzle.

She said after Monday night’s Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee vote, the new Augusta maps are not what citizens want.

“They went back to the original draft that the state drew up. People from somewhere out of town who don’t know this area. They don’t know the neighborhoods. It’s not just District 3, it’s all neighborhoods,” she said of the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office’s involvement.

McKnight said two historic neighborhoods from her district, Summerville and Forest Hills, are being divided into Districts 1, 2 and 3. She said the split, which comes from growth in her area, mostly near Fort Gordon, is not right.

“You don’t lose Newman Tennis Center. You don’t lose the golf course, but you do lose Magnolia Drive, which is a small road, Cardinal, Buena Vista, Park Avenue, one side of Lombardy Court. One side they want to put in District 3 and keep the other in 2,” she explained. We checked with a person on the committee and confirmed that the split will not impact school zones.

She added other areas that have been in District 3 for years are now gone with this vote, Daniel Village as well as Augusta University Summerville.

One homeowner in District 3, David Dunagan, said the residents of Augusta-Richmond County lost with one vote.

“The Ad Hoc Committee had the opportunity to tweak the lines that were drawn 10 years ago and bring neighborhoods that were split up back into one district. This includes Pepperidge, Valley Forge, Fleming Heights, Woodlake, Summerville, Forest Hills,” said District 3 resident and business owner Dunagan.

Dunagan said the new redistricting maps make it harder for people to appeal to their leaders for changes.

He explained, “You have two different people you have to go to, whether it’s your community center you’re fighting for or your ballfield, your park, your historic preservation wants and needs. You could have as much as three commissioners you’re dealing with.”

Despite McKnight and Dunagan wanting the committee to go back to the drawing board, the Ad Hoc vote was final. It now goes to the Augusta Commission and Board of Education for adoption. It moves to the state legislature to seal the deal.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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