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Athens City Council talks murals and snow removal

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A new glow-in-the-dark mural may soon grace Athens’ streets, as discussed at the Athens City Council committee meeting Monday evening.

The mural would be the work of Jolena Hansbarger, an Ohio University student and west Athens resident. Hansbarger was awarded a grant by OU to fund the project at no cost to the city.

The proposal would be part of an Athens Beautification Day initiative. If it goes as proposed, the community could come together to paint a wall off Walker Street, close to the ARTS/West center.

“Before Athens Beautification Day, I would like to paint all of the outlines so people can come in and paint in between all of the colors,” Hansbarger told the council.

Kent Butler, D-1st ward, supports the initiative because it’s a privately funded project and won’t cost the city of Athens any money.

Hansbarger added that various organizations have showed interest in participating in the painting of the mural, including OU ROTC as well as Alpha Omega Pi Fraternity.

However, the project does not have total support. Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, commented that the issue could be controversial. Papai said just because the project is privately funded does not mean it is of public interest due to the Greek mythology of the mural.

Jennifer Cochran, D-At Large, felt the mural was not a big issue and that it would give the community an additional thing to do during the event other than picking up trash.

“I think folks would like to buy a house where there is vibrant community art,” Cochran said. “I applaud the opportunity to bring it into Athens Beautification Day because it’s so much more of a meaningful project than picking up trash.”

Mayor Steve Patterson added the city could potentially own the mural if it was included in the ordinance. The idea will be formally brought before the council next week.

Council also discussed complaints citizens had about snow removal. The council reminded citizens to remove snow from sidewalks in a timely manner, as per city code.

The council also proposed giving elderly residents waivers so they would not be fined if they didn’t remove the snow immediately.

Chris Fahl, D-4th ward, further discussed snow piled up at bus stops and cited that the city should do more to further remove snow on sidewalks.

Service Safety Director Paula Horan-Moseley said the city only has six snow removal trucks and one bulldozer for snow removal, making it hard to clear snow immediately. Mayor Patterson suggested citizens should help one another by helping the elderly remove snow on sidewalks.

“What is the purpose of a city if it’s not to protect its citizens?” said Jeffrey Risner, D-2nd Ward. “The elderly are the most vulnerable of our citizens.”

Butler cited various other Ohio cities who remove snow from both streets and sidewalks and proposed the city fix the issue, while Patrick McGee, I-At Large, proposed code enforcers place salt down on sidewalks while they are handing out violations.

“I would ask the administration to perhaps have the people issuing citations drop salt on the ice at the time so maybe the danger would be eradicated at that time,” McGee said. “I would certainly contribute a dollar to the administration to pay for a bag of salt.”

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