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City Council moves to improve Stimson Avenue

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Athens City Council on Monday during a special session in front of a relatively empty room approved the design of the Stimson Avenue improvements project and discussed both what its construction would include and how much funding is needed. 

Mayor Steve Patterson and three council members — Sarah Grace, Jeffrey Risner and Arian Smedley — attended the meeting virtually through a video call. The present members adhered to the social distancing protocols recommended by public health officials to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Councilmember Sam Crowl said the project would not only enhance the street, which was built in 1970, but also improve the sidewalk and accessibility to other forms of transportation. 

“As you can imagine, in 1970, we really built things for automobiles,” Crowl said. “That’s not to say this road will not be upgraded and work very well for automobiles, but we also think about lots of different accessibility options in 2020.”

The project calls for a new sidewalk on the north portion of Stimson Avenue and a shared use path for pedestrians and bicyclists on its southern portion, which would connect to the Hockhocking Adena bike path. Crowl said the road’s improvement will help bicyclists, walkers, strollers and wheelchair users traverse it with ease.

Crowl also said that utilities will be moved underground at the improved Stimson Avenue for both aesthetics and safety. Underground utilities are less vulnerable to severe weather and allow easier access for emergency services. 

The project will also upgrade the sanitary, storm, sewer and water systems along Stimson Avenue. It’s estimated to cost around $7 million and take three years to complete, according to Crowl. 

Council has authorized $630,000 in city funding. Through grants and other resources, the project has already been awarded about $2.5 million. Crowl said if other expected sources of funding come through, the project will only require $2 million more in funding. 

“I am delighted to hear that the city is being so creative and persistent about pursuing external sources of funding,” Councilmember Beth Clodfelter said.

Patterson also announced that Athens will reapply for a Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council grant. Athens has used the grant in the past to fund solar lighting in bus shelters and personal device charging stations, which are shaped like umbrellas, for the community swimming pool and other city uses.

Patterson announced the 2020 project to be standalone solar street lights that will be placed along streets on the far east side of Athens. The project will cost about $11,000. 

Due to continued concerns of spread of the novel coronavirus, city council encouraged the public to watch live streams of council meetings rather than attend in person and to email questions and concerns to [email protected]

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