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At one time, ASU had a pool, but it’s no longer operational, and while GHSU buys passes to the Aquatic Center and sells them to its students, there’s no doubting the desirability of having greater control. “Like anyone else, you’ve got to go out and look at what’s in the best interest of the university,” Bryant said. “And I think that’s what the people at both Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University are trying to figure out.” While Russell insisted any deal made with the new university would be contingent on maintaining an equal or greater amount of public access, given recent history, public uneasiness is understandable. On one hand, there is the municipal golf course, known as the Patch, which is now operated by the Patch of Augusta, a Scottish-based company. While the course consistently lost money when run by the city, critics of the privatization say the new arrangement has changed the culture of the course and altered the established access enjoyed by regulars. On the other hand, there are the actions of the new university — more specifically GHSU — which some feel has displayed imperialistic overtones since Dr. Ricardo Azziz took the helm. Not only has the university snatched up the Golf and Gardens property, recognized as the most valuable piece of land in downtown Augusta and long desired by the mayor as the site of a new downtown baseball stadium, it has successfully campaigned to change the look of Laney Walker Boulevard and meddled with a proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market slated for the 15th Street area near Kroger. With consolidation, the perception is that Azziz and GHSU has gobbled up ASU at a time when ASU was flexing muscles of its own, pushing forward with a Wrightsboro Road expansion while contemplating a downtown presence of its own. In the face of that kind of determined and focused growth, it’s understandable why some would question whether or not a guarantee to grant continued

public access would remain a priority to either party. Even without adding a university-sized stake in the Aquatic Center, competition for lanes during the key after-school hours is keen. “We have two year-round swim teams and right now we’re working with 13 local high schools,” said Aquatics Supervisor Roger Wexler. “If you’ve got a swim team, you’re pretty much here.” Basically, the hours from 3 to 8 p.m. are the prime time, though Wexler said other programming exists throughout the day, including water fitness and, during the summer, lots and lots of swimming lessons. And even though the high school teams and the two swim teams are all competing for the same limited space at the same time, Wexler said he keeps one or two lanes open for whatever public swimmers might want to use the pool during those prime hours. Those weekday hours aren’t the only times the pool is busy, however. “We encompass ASL and Greater Augusta Swimming (GAS) meets, but we also have the high school meets from both Georgia and South Carolina,” Wexler said. “I think we have about 41 days during the year that we’re exclusively on swim meets, and there’s a lot of economic impact there for the city of Augusta.” Randy DuTeau, events manager for the Augusta Sports Council, concurs. “Last year, we worked with ASL on a state youth swim competition that brought in roughly 850 swimmers for a four-day swim meet,” he said. “The thing about 28JUNE2012

AUGUSTA’S INDEPENDENT VOICE SINCE 1989

METROSPIRIT 19

Metro Spirit 06.28.2012  

The Metro Spirit is a free weekly newspaper that serves readers in the Augusta and North Augusta area. Editorial coverage includes Richmond...

Metro Spirit 06.28.2012  

The Metro Spirit is a free weekly newspaper that serves readers in the Augusta and North Augusta area. Editorial coverage includes Richmond...

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