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GEORGIA COLLEGE & STATE UNIVERSITY

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Oconee River Greenway: Art vs safety

 

The pedestrian bridge at the Oconee River Greenway remains under construction two years after receiving a $35,000 grant for an art installation the city government has yet to approve. 

 

During this delay, several violent crimes have been reported at the Greenway. 

 

In 2016, the $35,000 grant was provided to paint a mural under the Greenway pedestrian bridge. 

 

“The city will tell us when, so until then, our hands are tied,” said David Grant, treasurer of the Oconee River Greenway Foundation. “I’d love to write that check and send it in.” 

 

The project’s goal involves students from both GMC and GC painting the mural with their own creative ideas. 

 

The bridge is also washing out, causing a delay in the art installation. This creates a more dangerous environment as the beams are weak and need replacement, which will costs more money. 

 

The person of contact for the city’s approval keeps changing, and when it changes, the foundation has to start over again. This is another reason for the years of delay.

 

Two battery assaults and one sexual assault have been reported at the Greenway over the past two years. 

 

The most recent report was July 30, and the victim, a pregnant juvenile, was struck in the stomach and chased by a man. The incident report states that they fought under the bridge and that there were witnesses. 

 

Another assault occurred close to the same bridge. The victim was a female jogger attacked by a man in a jumpsuit. She tried to defend herself, kicking and screaming, when she finally escaped and ran to the parking lot. Though no one witnessed the attack, they recall the same sketchy white male. However, all of the descriptions vary.  

 

“I sometimes walk my dog at the Greenway,” said GC student Bri Ray. “But not at night. At night, it’s a different kind of environment. It’s dark and sketchy.” 

 

The Greenway has lights throughout the trails but no cameras. Eight years ago, cameras helped measure foot traffic and deter crime, but the cameras were quickly stolen and never replaced. 

 

“If there’s anything to make it safer, we’re willing to look into it,” Grant said, “Like better placement of cameras. The only problem is, who is going to monitor them?”

 

The Oconee River Greenway Foundation cannot purchase cameras for public safety without permission from the Greenway Authority, a state establishment that owns the park. 

 

“As the foundation, we are just a fundraising arm,” said Walter Reynolds, a former foundation board member. “The money raised goes to expansions, maintenance and improvements.” 

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