City Money New bike paths and parking meter upgrades might be coming to Athens following this week’s City Council meeting By Maggie Prosser Posted on September 18, 2018 4 min read 0 0 501 City Council discusses new changes to meter parking and bike paths. Photo by Sarah Horne. At the body’s bi-weekly meeting, City Council proposed changes to uptown parking, development of a new bike path spur, and labelling a N. Shafer Street building as a local historic designation. City Council discussed changes to Athens’ uptown parking system, as well as construction to the Northwest Bikeway Spur at the body’s Monday night meeting. At a commission meeting last Monday, the council was met with proposals to update the parking meters throughout uptown. The new smart meters would increase parking rates and change operating hours, while allowing patrons to pay with an app or credit card. The interest, Councilmember Jeffrey Risner said, is in the businesses. Businesses drive the uptown economy, he said, and they want to turn-over the parking spaces every few hours to bring in more customers. Councilmember Pat McGee expressed concerns for the increases in parking fees and the machines “eating up” unused time in “the name of technological progress.” Athenian Judith Roman questioned whether or not the council would consult citizens about the changes, as they directly affect residents. Risner and Mayor Steve Patterson received letters from other concerned citizens about the height and readability of the pilot smart meters; Risner said these issues could be easily resolved. The council also discussed the new Northwest Bikeway Spur, which connects the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway from Armitage Road to University Estates Boulevard. The spur was originally set to cost $300,000, of which the city would contribute over $80,000. However, after complications with wildlife and terrain, projections estimate the city will pay $100,000 more than anticipated. “We have a wonderful bike path and bike trail system throughout Athens and this will continue to enhance what we already have,” Councilmember Kent Butler said. “People from all over southeast Ohio seek out our trail.” While the trail will expand what Councilmember Chris Fahl called “one of (Athens’) most growing sectors,” other members were concerned with the price tag. “It’s a dramatic increase in the city’s contribution,” Councilmember Sarah Grace said. “The expense to the city is concerning. It’s unfortunate that it comes at a point when we are well into and committed, wanting to complete this project.” In other business: The council unanimously approved an ordinance designating the Stewart MacDonald building a local historic designation. In doing so, the Stewart MacDonald company will receive tax breaks on the building’s renovations, Sara Marrs-Maxfield, director of the Athens County Economic Development Council, said. The council also discussed services to dewater sludge at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, as well as redistributing city custodians’ salaries.