Athens City Council members met Monday to amend and approve ordinance concerning the building of a new city pool. They also continued their discussion on Airbnbs in Athens.

Athens City Council met Monday night to consider an ordinance on the replacement of the city pool and to continue the discussion of bed-and-breakfasts in Athens.

The ordinance will authorize $500,000 for engineering services for rebuilding or constructing a new pool in Athens. Before unanimously approving the ordinance, council members moved to amend it from saying “outdoor municipal swimming pool” to “swimming pool options.”

Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, who proposed the amendment of the ordinance to include the possibility of an indoor pool, said the change would be best in terms of planning for the project.

“Maybe someone out there has the perfect option for that, and just saying outdoor limits it,” Fahl said. “I think that would be the most democratic way of going forward with this.”

That came after a number of council members expressed interest in exploring the possibility of constructing a new indoor swimming pool instead of replacing the existing outdoor one.

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Athens Mayor Steve Patterson expressed concerns about the idea of constructing a new indoor pool in Athens with the existence of the Ohio University Aquatic Center.

“To have two indoor aquatic facilities is almost unthinkable,” Patterson said. “Other cities our size are lucky to have either an indoor or outdoor aquatic facility.”

One concerned Athens resident, Abe Alassaf, came forward during the meeting to voice his concerns over the possibility of a new indoor pool being built.

“Being a taxpayer for the city, I would not like them to go up anymore,” Alassaf said. “I’ve spent many years going to the city pool, and if we needed to go to an indoor pool, we went to the OU Aquatic Center.”

Council members also gave citizens a chance to speak about the issue of the city regulating Airbnbs in Athens. Airbnb is an online service that allows people to host their apartments or homes as places for lodging.

Alassaf also came forward to speak on that issue.

“People aren’t just creating businesses. It’s a supplemental income,” Alassaf said. “I’m getting a cease and desist order when all I’m doing is renting out a room to parents visiting their kids during a crazy weekend when they can’t get a hotel room.”

Brandon Kerr, an OU student, said at the meeting that he doesn’t believe the city should be concerned about Airbnbs, and the transaction between host and guest has been around since the beginning of history.

“Airbnbs are not only legal, but are a mark of one’s charity,” Kerr said. “This new market of sharing is becoming ingrained in American market economy and is simply a natural thing that happens over the course of human history.”

Councilman Pat McGee, I-At Large, also proposed a potential petition to close down certain streets during fests.

“I think they’re going to apply for a parade license since they won’t have time to get the streets shut down,” McGee said. “Many students that I’ve talked to have loved the idea of making their parties safer so that they won’t need to have a large police presence, which will save the city a lot of money.”


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