Loan for Laney-Walker/Bethlehem project not yet approved

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The Augusta-Richmond County commissioners postponed a vote to fund a $2.5 million loan for the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem Revitalization has some members in the community furious.

"How else are we going to operate without resources," questioned Chester Wheeler, Augusta Housing Director.

But some commissioners said they need more time to decide.

"When we got a decision with this kind of money involved, let's give it a few more days or a week," said Commissioner Grady Smith. "He doesn't need the money until next year. So why do we need to rush in and make a decision?"

But a decision could hinder progress according to Wheeler.

"I've just made my statement and all I'll say is the delay may hurt us and that's all I'll say," a furious Wheeler said while exiting the commission chambers.

Wheeler initially requested more money but cut $200,000, per year, in areas of consulting and marketing for the project but if the commission doesn't approve the money, only two more houses in the area will be built and the project will be at a standstill.

Something Commissioner Bill Lockett says cannot happen.

"If we have a project that's incomplete, people are going to move out and all the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we've invested for publicity would be down the drain," Lockett said.

Leaders of the project are hoping that this loan is approved soon because it would help fund more units until a 2015 bond is issued.

Commissioner Lockett said he is confident that the loan will be approved after commissioners have more time to review.

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