Saturday, March 24, 2012

Goats to Clean Up Augusta

AUGUSTA, GA - Former Commissioner District 2 Marion Williams talked in the past about using goats to clean up grassy yards. If the city decides it would be worth it financially to keep goats then they could be feasibly used in that way. And would the goats be used only on abandoned or "absentee landlord" property? Can we use them on properties owned by the elderly?

In 2010 during a walk on to Kent Street, Williams pointed to a home of the former principal of Lucy Laney High School who passed away a few years ago.

“This was a really affluent neighborhood at one time,” he said. “But, now, look at the bars on the windows. Look how people are living. It’s a shame.”

Williams passed one house with a beautifully manicured lawn, a garden and sturdy fence around the property. Next door was a shell of a home that no longer had a roof and a tree was growing up through the middle of the house.

“That house has been burned out for years, but no one is doing anything about it,” Williams said. “And this property owner has had to look at it every day.”

Like many of Williams’ ideas, he believes the problem of overgrown lots can be solved by thinking outside the box.

“I’ve seen in Atlanta and other cities, they take a herd of goats and put them in a place that is fenced in and they eat up the vegetation,” he said. “The goat is the only animal you don’t have to buy food for. They eat everything.”

While some people might think that idea is absurd, Williams says it has proven successful in other cities.

There has been a lot of talk about the crime and rundown houses in neighborhoods such as Harrisburg (District 1), Williams said those problems pale in comparison to some of the issues facing District 2.

“Harrisburg is a rough area that needs some attention, but District 2 is rougher than Harrisburg if you can imagine that,” he said. “Half of the houses on this block are probably boarded up or burned out. People don’t have any jobs and they don’t have any incentive to do better. And it’s not like you have just one or two houses like this in District 2. We have hundreds of them.”

But the city’s license and inspection department is understaffed and underfunded, so these problems are allowed to continue to plague the district, Williams said.

“We need some new ideas. District 2 needs a voice,” he said. “District 2 needs help. All of the money goes to one side of town and District 2 doesn’t get it. We need to make sure that we are spending money fairly.”

He made an attempt to recapture his old District 2 seat back in 2010, running against Corey Johnson, who he had previously endorsed to take his place on the commission after he was term limited from running for another consecutive term.

Williams tried to make a comeback, but Johnson handily won re-election with over 65% of the vote. Williams intends to run for the Super Commission District 9 seat currently held by J.R Hatney. Since Hatney is term limited it will be an open seat with no incumbent.

Attorney Harold V. Jones, II an Augusta Richmond County former Solicitor General, from 2005 - 2009 is running also for the same seat.

RELATED POST (Spending taxpayers money wisely and fairly)

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