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City Council discusses International Street Fair and Number Fest conflict

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Athens City Council took on a scheduling conflict Monday night, as it was brought to their attention that both Number Fest (stylized as #Fest) and the International Street Fair are currently planned for April 16.

Although the two events take place at different locations, their overlap has caused problems for the ISF in past years. The problems are expected again this year.

Council members seemed very disappointed with Number Fest organizers and appeared to favor the annual ISF, which has been held for 34 years.

“We absolutely appreciate the city’s support for such a cherished event,” Councilwoman Jennifer Cochran, D-At Large, said. “It’s a shared point of pride for our entire community.”

During discussion of whether Number Fest organizers were aware of the pre-existing International Street Fair and would be willing to cooperate, Councilwoman Christine Fahl, D-4th Ward, said she thought organizers knew but just didn’t care.

Mayor Steve Patterson also addressed the situation, saying he and his family love the street fair. In hopes to keep the ISF going, Patterson suggested moving the fair to another street, with East Union as the primary option.

“It’s a simple event to police because it typically doesn’t need to be policed, unlike other events that happen to collide with our beloved International Street Fair,” Patterson said.

A conclusion was not reached on the issue, but the problem will need to be resolved before the events take place in April.

Another issue at hand during the council meeting was plans for a new public swimming pool for the city.

At 40 years old, the current pool has an aging infrastructure with wearing pipes and pumps. According to an estimate, repairing it would cost roughly $150,000, but the repairs might not last long before they need to be redone.

“I hate to throw money at something that is limping along and is likely to not be there in a few years,” said Councilman Kent Butler, D-1st Ward.

A bond has been proposed to build a new swimming pool for approximately $7.3 million, but the specifics around that swimming pool have yet to be determined. The estimated cost would differ greatly depending on the specifics for the new plan.

Additionally, it is not known how long the current pool could survive without repair. Assuming a contractor is hired by March this year for a new pool, officials estimate the project could be finalized by 2017. Without repair on the current pool, a pool might not be in Athens in the summer of 2016.

“We could look at concepts forever, and go nowhere,” Patterson said, stressing the importance of immediacy. “So we really need to start to get this in play. If we don’t do it soon, we could be looking at two years without a pool.”

Council members wanted to discuss the pool bond on Monday’s meeting but said they would be voting on whether to pass the bond at a later date.

No decisions were made on the matter, but the council made it clear they wanted to act quickly even if specifics for a future pool were still up for debate.

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