Home Politics Trick or treat safety, crosswalks major focuses for Athens City Council meeting

Trick or treat safety, crosswalks major focuses for Athens City Council meeting

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The safety of crosswalks on the Richland Avenue roundabout became an unexpected feature of the Athens City Council meeting Monday night.

Councilman Steve Patterson brought the issue to the council’s attention, saying he had received a letter and two emails from constituents about the subject.

“The concerns were one of entering on to the roundabout and having to watch for traffic over your left shoulder and pedestrians on the right,” Patterson said. “Apparently there were a couple near misses there, as well as a couple close calls from people who have had to stop quickly for someone in the crosswalk.”

Patterson also pointed out that while there is a tunnel that goes under Richland Avenue and comes out on the other side, people often just choose to take the crosswalk because it seems faster.

Several other councilmembers, including Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, and Councilwoman Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, said they had similar correspondence with citizens.

City Council President Christine Knisely, serving as the acting mayor in place of Mayor Paul Wiehl, suggested that help from Ohio University might be necessary to help reduce accidents.

“Educational efforts from the university on social media have worked in the past,” Knisely said after the meeting. “I think we could create a joint project between the city and the university fairly easily, just like we have in the past.”

Councilwoman Fahl suggested that improving signage in the area would help.

“It wouldn’t be too costly to put up some signs,” Fahl said. “In England, they put signs on the road telling pedestrians from other countries to look the other way. It could be really beneficial.”

Nothing has been introduced to the council to solve the problem yet, but Patterson has plans to talk to the city engineer to see what the options are for the city.

City council also reached a resolution in the debate over closing Court Street on Oct. 26 during the Athens Uptown Business Association’s trick or treat event.

The council originally voted to leave the street open during the event, but on Monday, the decision was reached to begin bagging parking meters at 2 p.m. and to close the street from 5-7:30 p.m. The unanimous vote was designed to protect children who will be out during the event while also giving as much help to businesses as possible.

City finances were also discussed at the meeting. The council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that would help pay for police cruisers and the community center. The ordinance, adopted on first reading, needed to be passed in order to pay debts to the state of Ohio and to guarantee continued functionality of city services.

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