North Augusta officials today will disclose the details of “Project Jackson,” a proposed major, multiuse riverfront project widely rumored to include a new stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets.
North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover said the announcement is in response to rampant speculation.
A third reading of a land development agreement that provides for an extended timeline in the event Project Jackson comes to fruition went before the council Monday, but the measure will require public approval before advancing, with details of that process to be released today, Glover said.
“There will be opportunities for public input, but there will not be a referendum,” he said. “We’re putting the details out, saying, ‘Here are the details, and if you don’t like it, that’s OK.’ ”
Neither Glover, Mayor Lark Jones, City Councilman Arthur Shealy nor Hammond’s Ferry developer Turner Simkins would deny that Project Jackson involves a facility suitable for minor league baseball, of the type GreenJackets’ owner Ripken Baseball has sought to replace Lake Olmstead Stadium in Augusta.
The 44-acre site adjoins Hammond’s Ferry at the 13th Street-Georgia Avenue bridge, diagonally across the Savannah River from the 17-acre former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame tract, where Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver sought – until its transfer to Georgia Health Sciences University – to build a multipurpose stadium for the GreenJackets.
Simkins, who served on Copenhaver’s stadium steering committee, denied being “a participant” in any baseball-specific discussions, but he said the development of a town-center style complex at the riverbank was long a part of Hammond’s Ferry’s plans.
What is in the works will complement the 200-acre new urbanist-style Hammond’s Ferry, nearly half of which is dedicated to greenspace, but will become a major attraction, “the only urban destination on the Savannah River that truly is a public destination,” he said.
Jeff Eiseman, the Ripken vice president of sales and marketing and a longtime participant in Augusta’s stadium initiative, also hasn’t denied the baseball stadium rumors. Eiseman promised “lots of things to announce” this week.
The development allows for construction of a parking deck and will involve numerous parties including Aiken County and the Aiken County schools, Glover said.
The agreement locks in zoning at the site and provides for North Augusta to complete a road and a riverwalk-style park on the water’s edge, whether Project Jackson occurs or not.
One of two city council members to vote against the agreement, Shealy said it gives Hammond’s Ferry too much leverage over the city and is insufficient to govern Project Jackson, which he said “will be several degrees of magnitude greater” than the document indicates.