Athens Police Department located at 11 N College St in Athens, Ohio. (Kelsey Boeing | Director of Photography)

Athens City Council building located at 8 E Washington in Athens, Ohio. (Kelsey Boeing | Director of Photography)

Summer in the City

August 27, 2020

What Athens City Council accomplished this summer

By Abby Miller | News Editor

T he political hustle and bustle of Athens doesn’t slow down while students are away from campus. Between ordinances, emergency meetings and resolutions, here is the political news you missed this summer in Athens:

City mandates face coverings

City Council met for two emergency sessions in July to pass an ordinance mandating the use of masks in public spaces to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The ordinance, passed July 13, requires face coverings to be worn in businesses, places of worship, city-owned buildings, public transportation and outside when social distancing is not possible, according to a previous Post report.

Those who do not comply with the order can receive a $100 fine and be charged with a misdemeanor.

The ordinance does not apply to Ohio University students, administrators or faculty. Those on OU property, however, are subject to the university’s interim face coverings policy.

Racism declared public health crisis

The Council passed a resolution June 22 declaring racism a public health crisis in Athens.

The resolution came amid weeks of protests over police brutality, including protests in Athens. It outlines several ways to promote racial equality in Athens, such as providing workplace bias training to all elected officials, employees and staff in Athens.

The resolution also requests Mayor Steve Patterson create a working group to promote racial equality, especially in hiring and promoting employees.

Council will also review Athens City Code with a racial bias lens, along with all of its internal practices.

City-wide composting program launches

Council passed an ordinance May 26 adding a composting service to Athens’ solid waste contract.

The program costs all refuse and recycling account holders an additional $6.33 fee a month for composting pick-up and a five-gallon compost bucket. Those enrolled in the program have the ability to opt out at any time and no longer be charged.

The service began in July and was added as the city renewed its waste management contract with the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center. The contract also resulted in an increase of $4.50 for refuse and recycling, according to a previous Post report.

Councilmembers debated for several weeks over if the composting program should be opt-in or opt-out. Opt-out was decided so Athens residents could minimize their costs during the COVID-19 pandemic if necessary.

Parklet pilot program approved

Council passed an ordinance for a parklet pilot program June 15 to provide more socially distanced outdoor seating Uptown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parklets, sidewalk extensions that give businesses extra outdoor space, can be applied for and used in Uptown Athens through August and September.

Athens City Planner Paul Logue said the city had previously floated the idea of using parklets, but they could be critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. The parklets would allow for more social distancing outside and could help make up lost revenue.

Athens Law Director Lisa Eliason said, however, alcohol may not be able to be served on the parklets. Many liquor licenses in Athens only allow businesses to serve liquor inside of their buildings.

Logue also suggested the city offset the loss in parking by providing an additional 34 spaces from a secure lot on College Street, according to a previous Post report.

AUTHOR: Abby Miller
EDITOR: Ian McKenzie
COPY EDITOR: Bre Offenberger
PHOTO: Kelsey Boeing