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City Council moves towards park improvements

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Athens city council proposed a new ordinance to allow the mayor to move on applying for an agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources with a plan for the West State Street Park.

At-Large Rep. Steve Patterson said the agreement would allow payment for construction of a multi-purpose basketball center at the park.

“It would be an asphalt or concrete pad, most likely concrete, and it would allow moisture to be whisked away,” Patterson said. He also stated the pad could be painted with hopscotch or foursquare games in mind. The grant would have to come first.

The NatureWorks grant is able to provide up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance for “local government subdivisions (townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts, and conservancy districts) for the acquisition, development, and rehabilitation of recreational areas.” Athens County has funds available equal to $22,068. Therefore, the construction costs would be limited by the amount the city would have to pay, which ends up around $7,265, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.

Council President Jim Sands said the application has some priority, but that the city government determines it.

“Normally the administrator or director of a division within city administration does research into probable projects, then presents the department’s ideas to the council. From there, it needs the approval of the council,” Sands said. “Generally, the council agrees to go through with the application. It is very rare for [the council] to deny the application because it makes funds available for the city, which can only benefit Athens.”

Patterson said that there is a high possibility the grant will be awarded to Athens. “We’re really one of the only township or city to apply for it. I have not heard whether any other city has applied for the Athens county fund yet, but I do know that it was granted to Nelsonville last year.”

Sands said that the city has used NatureWorks money before on various projects.

“Because it is a good way to make more things available to the public, the council likes to support these grant applications. My neighbor goes to the dog park with four or five dogs, which is a great thing the city did with this money,” Sands said.

Sands also said Athens has a good track record of winning the competitive grant. Because it is a state award, however, the funds do vary from year to year.

“So these grants really rely on good research and extended knowledge on costs and the applications of grants for projects,” Sands said.

 

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