Aiken Co. council member: Project Jackson will probably be approved

Aiken Co. council member: Project Jackson will probably be approved

The Aiken County council will decide if they will support the financing of Project Jackson in five days.

North Augusta officials say their vote is critical because it will determine if Project Jackson has enough funding to move forward.

The Aiken County Board of Education voted to participate in the funding of the development of the riverfront into a minor league baseball stadium and hotel Tuesday; but they will withdraw their support if the County doesn't also vote "yes."

"I think it will be voted through," said Aiken County District Seven council member Andrew Siders.

Fox54's Mark Barber asked, "Is that what you would like to see?" Siders said, "I'm 95% there."

Siders hopes the council will throw their weight behind the project because he says the economic development would be hugely beneficial for the county.

North Augusta leaders are asking the county to participate in the funding of the $150 million project for 30 years.

"It's a bold plan and now may be the time for bold action," Siders, said.

Steve Donohue is also taking bold action; he's the president of the Homeowners Association for the River Club.

He's strongly opposed to Project Jackson because he says it will maim their neighborhood.

"The consequences for our neighborhood will be dire; it will just ruin the place, we'll have traffic, litter, lights, noise," said Donohue.

He says the proposal shouldn't have made it as far as it has because the city is trying to start a tax district for prime riverfront property, which he says doesn't line up with the law.

"A: The Tax Increment Financing statue of South Carolina requires that the area be blighted. B: It requires that property values are declining. C: It requires that unless there's substantial public assistance the property would not otherwise be developed," he said.

While Donohue and Siders disagree about the merits of Project Jackson; they do agree that a lot hinges on the council's vote.

"I understand that a lot does rest with us," said Siders.

The council is expected to vote on August 20. If the funding for Project Jackson receives approval, the bulk of the work for the city will start.

There will be a series of public hearings and the city will secure contracts with the developer. Then they will go through the design and the bidding process. City Council members say if it's approved, it may be a year before construction starts.