North Augusta takes step in fight over dam

The Augusta Chronicle

March 05– Mar. 5–The North Augusta City Council approved a resolution Monday night taking action against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to replace the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam.

The resolution authorizes city Administrator Todd Glover to spend $15,000 from the General Fund Administration Contingency Account to prepare comments challenging the Corps’ preferred plan for the lock and dam.

The money will be used in part to hire Cranston Engineering and McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group to provide comments on the Corps’ documents, since the comments will require knowledge of hydraulics, environmental services and engineering.

The council also plans to enter into an agreement with Augusta to make comments for joint submission.

“It’s my opinion and I think that council agrees that providing one set of comprehensive comments from our two governments would have more of an impact on the corps of engineers,” Pettit said.

The Corps has recommended an option that would replace the lock and dam with a rock weir, which would substantially lower the pool elevation along the city’s shoreline. The city supports an option that would retain the dam with a fish passage, and authorize the mayor and the city administrator to ensure the present pool is maintained, according to the resolution.

During a study session, the council also discussed proposing a resolution at the next council meeting to rezone the former Seven Gables property for a fire station.

However, the council disagreed over a location for new public safety headquarters. It was split between constructing both buildings on the same property, or moving the headquarters to the current community center, which Councilman Fletcher Dickert said has been declining in use. In response to comments from residents, however, Dickert said the Seven Gables property is the best location for the fire station.

Glover also discussed an animal transfer agreement with Aiken County during the study session. With the agreement, the Aiken County Animal Shelter would take two highly adoptable dogs per month from the North Augusta Animal Control facility in order to reduce the number of dogs that are euthanized. Glover said that in 2018, only two adoptable dogs were euthanized in North Augusta.

“We hope it’s something we don’t need, but it’s there in case we do,” Glover said.

Glover announced an event for June 1 that aims to raise money for a consultant to look at North Augusta’s animal control operations and community rescue groups to see how they could improve. The consultant would also help the city decide whether it would fund “trap, neuter and release” programs, in which feral cats are spayed or neutered, then released.

The consultant would cost $15,000, with Friends of the Animal Shelter in Aiken raising half of the cost through the Porch Walk for Paws event in Hammonds Ferry, and the city raising the rest.

Glover said more than half of the animals that come into the North Augusta holding facility are surrendered by owners. The Friends of the Animal Shelter has offered to let the city use its website, fotas.home-home.org, to encourage pet owners to list their pet on that site to find new homes for them instead of dropping them off at a shelter or animal control facility.

Through the website, people can see adoptable pets being surrendered by their owners, and the site allows the pet owners to reconsider surrendering their animal.

During the council meeting, the council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a settlement agreement with Odell Associates, which designed SRP Park. The settlement regards a dispute between the city and the stadium over the company’s responsibility for owner-alleged errors and omissions. As part of the settlement, Odell will pay back the city $75,000.

The council also passed the third and final reading of an ordinance to change the corporate limits of the city by annexing 0.63 acres of property at 1015 Reams Road.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.