A group of consultants recently provided a feasibility study for the Columbia County "gateway" project, designed to examine an arena and a facility for an exotic animal collection for a site near Grovetown.
The result? Great idea, but we can't afford it.
Led by Rosser International, the study focused on a 2,500 acre site off Lewiston Road near Interstate 20. Commissioners asked the consultants to look at three things: the economic viability of a civic arena; the feasibility of providing space for a donated exhibit of mounted exotic animals; and designing a site plan for the privately owned site.
The resulting plan is "rather ambitious," says Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross. He adds that any project would need to be led by the private sector because the site, next to Horizon South Industrial Park, is privately owned.
The study says an 8,000-seat arena for the county is economically viable in conjunction with the larger development. The study notes, however, that county officials "in the foreseeable future... will not undertake a capital project of the magnitude required for such a facility."
A better choice, the study says, would be partnering with Augusta to build a regional facility entertainment complex.
Likewise, the exotic animal collection could be a feasible attraction only in conjunction with a larger development. It would best be incorporated into a private project, the study says - such as the Bass Pro Shops mega-store that spurned Columbia County in favor of bigger tax incentives in Richmond County.
In summary? While the study asserts that the overall project is an outstanding idea, and predicts its success, the reality is that it won't, and shouldn't, happen unless it's led by the private sector - where only private investments are at risk.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.