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Opinion

North Augusta’s Trojan Horse: The Invasion of Merriwether


web posted November 29, 2010

Click on picture for larger view
COLUMN – The City of North Augusta is moving forward on their Trojan Horse in the disguise of a multi-million dollar recreational facility smack dab in the middle of the Merriwether Community.  Most Merriwether residents have heard of the plan but very few know the size and invasive scope of the project to the rural and quiet community. That is about to change.

The park, no doubt to be used as a lure to get residents of Merriwether to vote to be annexed into the city to funnel tax money to their downtown expansion, will be located between Murrah and Five Notch Roads.

However, the City of North Augusta has little concern, it seems, in informing the residents of Merriwether of their plans as no meeting has been held in Merriwether or Edgefield County for that matter of the negative impact it will have on the community.

In fact, the map they use to show the wonderful park (Left) specifically blurs the surrounding community to further disguise the impact it will have on neighboring subdivisions. I am sure this was just a simple oversight by the city planners just as not holding meetings in the community they intend to invade.

In addition to placing five baseball fields in the back yards of the residents of Carr Estates located on Murrah Road, the noise from games played by the city teams will be piercing the once peaceful ambiance that is Merriwether far beyond Carr Estates.

Other problems this monstrosity will cause are the costs to Edgefield County taxpayers which cannot be calculated at this time. Remember, once the City of North Augusta plays their cards, the property will be removed from our tax rolls and the city will not be contributing to our county operations in any way shape or form.

And make no mistake, the central "MTB Trail" shown is nothing more than an expansion to North Augusta's "Greenway" and will be used to annex the property using the former railway over the objection of Merriwether residents. If you doubt that premise, why did North Augusta annex Martintown Road beyond Gregory Lake Road to annex a subdivision miles away with the Democrat County Council members (Kneece, Bright, and Dorn) not saying a word in opposition?

Answer: Because it furthered their plans and the current majority of the Edgefield County Council allowed it to happen. North Augusta has plans to annex Merriwether up to Garrett Road and members of the county council knows it, even if they dare not to speak about it.

Not to mention such a facility will bring an increase in traffic on Murrah and Five Notch Roads with the roads unable to handle the current traffic. This is not to mention the number of collisions at the intersection of these roads already. How is the Sheriff’s Office going to provide traffic control with only three road deputies patrolling the entire 507 square mile county already?

Big surprise, the new Aiken County "penny tax" will also include making Five Notch Road a four lane into Edgefield County. Who saw that one coming. And who gets to pay for patrolling the area? Edgefield County, not Aiken County or the City of North Augusta.

And how is Edgefield County going to provide EMS coverage to the park during baseball, football, softball, soccer, and other activities with only two ambulance crews covering the same area?

No doubt this wonderful park will place a drain on Merriwether residents who currently pay taxes to support recreation in Edgefield County with some deserting the county recreation program in favor of North Augusta’s and diverting registration fees and other funds to the city, not Edgefield County.

Will the new North Augusta park push Bettis Park into obscurity for local recreation support after almost $2 million having been invested in our own county recreational operations? Who wins in this situation? Merriwether, Bettis Park, Edgefield County, or North Augusta? Without question the latter, and that is their intent.

Do not believe for a moment that North Augusta has the best interest of Edgefield County or the Merriwether Community at heart in their decision process. They are seeking to expand their tax base at any cost, including over $20 million for the new park.

Do you think they would spend that kind of money to further the wellbeing of Edgefield County and get nothing in return?  

The reality is North Augusta should spend their money and efforts inside their own city limits and the county they reside in and leave Merriwether and Edgefield County out of it. If Merriwether wanted to be a part of North Augusta it would have done so long ago.

It hasn’t, and the people of Merriwether want no part of the “big city life” North Augusta has to offer, much less the huge increase in taxes they want to impose, as evidenced by Town Hall meetings held by Edgefield County Council members Genia Blackwell and Rodney Ashcraft in the area. The issue raised by a majority of residents in every meeting has been how to stop North Augusta's invasion of the community.



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