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Athens City Council members (from left to right) Peter Kotses, President Chris Knisely and Debra Walker listen to Mayor Steve Patterson at the Athens City Council meeting on Jan. 16. (FILE)

City Council: Members hear from disabilities commission and local food vendor

Athens City Council members heard a presentation from the Disabilities Commission at the Monday night committee meeting. 

The Disabilities Commission gave city council members its year-end report on its accomplishments for 2017. 

Lara Edge, the chair of the Commission on Disabilities, said 2017 was “the year of infrastructure.” The commission made progress with its Uptown assessment project. 

The commission also discussed its 2018 goals for improving conditions for people with disabilities.

“We want to be goal-oriented instead of reactionary,” Edge said. 

The committee is looking to work with the City of Athens and contractors on renovations and making new construction accessible for people with disabilities. 

“There’s (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, and then there’s true accessibility,” Edge said. “Especially in Athens, where we have this hilly terrain and old buildings.”

Former Athens City Council candidate and member of the Disability Commission Noah Trembley said although the city has improved, there are many places, such as the city building, that Athens could make more accessible for people with disabilities.

“The city has done some really good things to try to make (the City Building) as accessible as it can,” Trembley said. “They have made sure almost all pathways to public spaces are accessible … but there are some really simple things that they could do that would have a big impact on the place.”

Trembley said the city building has small furniture such as chairs and trash cans that could be moved and old door handles that could be replaced to make the building more accessible. 

City council members also discussed an ordinance that would amend parking spots for vendors in Athens. Members discussed adding parking spots and amending how vendors would pay for their spots.

The ordinance would amend a previous ordinance that dictates how vendors pay for a spot to vend on Union Street. The first phase of the ordinance would change how vendors pay for and reserve a spot to vend. The second phase would discuss additional spaces in Athens for vendors to reserve.

“I do think it’s worthwhile to consider not just what the needs of business and food vendors are today, but in the future,” Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, said. “How might we envision it looking in the future and accommodating future needs?”

Damon Krane, co-owner of the Hot Potato Food Truck, said there is room to improve the city’s ordinance on vending. 

“In my mind, opening up other vending areas is a good thing for the public, a good thing for the food scene,” Krane said. “It also helps compensate for the fact that we do have vending restricted (in) particular areas in Athens, more so than a lot of other cities.”


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