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Council sets plans to address “Hoverboards”

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Fans of the film ‘Back To the Future’ will be disappointed to hear that members of Athens City Council might ban hoverboards in lieu of keeping Athens’ congested walkways clear for pedestrians.

“What they are, are wheelie things that are like from ‘Back to the Future,’ but really by ordinance they should be banned,” Service Safety Director Paula Horan-Moseley said.

According to reports from law enforcement, officers attempting to address the issue have come into trouble with individuals calling them “personal mobility assistant devices.” Current ordinances have a loose definition of what can be considered an “assistant device” and what should be banned.

Council members unanimously agreed that these devices known as “hoverboards” were not meant for assistance due to a handicap but rather as a new form of transportation.

Because of the congested streets of Athens, members expressed need to address this issue but had a hard time imagining how to continue to define these devices that continue to develop and grow beyond city definition.

“How do you keep defining these things that are coming out?” said Councilwoman Christine Fahl, D-4th Ward, citing a device similar to a unicycle seen during Halloween weekend.

Members agreed to come back to the issue after consulting further with Law Director Lisa Eliason.

The council also heard from Jennifer Galbraith, the human resources director for the city of Athens who addressed the need to renew the contract between insurance company United Medical Resources and the city of Athens.

“Our plan is very robust, so having them has been very helpful” Galbraith said, expressing her support for the company.

Galbraith also used her time to request that the council consider widening the age range for patrolling officers in the city from between 21 and 35 years to between 21 and 40 years due to growing interest from capable officers outside the current age range.

“We have individuals moving to the area that have been in law enforcement for a very long time,” Galbraith said. “I think we could really benefit from their expertise.”

Councilman and mayor-elect Steve Patterson, D-At Large, expressed his support for the idea.

“To me, it seems smart,” Patterson said. “The fact that we have people 35 to 40 willing to apply means we can have more trained cops on the street faster.”

After that conversation, Councilman Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, spoke about plans to decorate electrical boxes at intersections with traffic lights with art submitted by local artists.

Earlier this year, the Municipal Arts Commission printed pictures and had Athens citizens vote on the ones that best represented Athens. This is part of a project called Outside The Box that will help transform a total of 30 boxes with ten pictures being chosen over the next two years.

“These boxes are huge targets for graffiti,” said Papi ”The idea that putting public art there, the hope is that it will help eliminate graffiti, and they’re cool to look at.”

CORRECTION: The original picture accompanying the article was attributed to Ben Larcey. This has since been corrected to urbanwheel.co.

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