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Athens City Councilman Jeffrey Risner listens to another council member during the council's session on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (FILE)

City Council: Smart parking meters and police body cameras approved for purchase

Correction appended.

Athens City Council introduced ordinances that would allow for the city to purchase smart parking meters Monday during its regular meeting. 

The first ordinance introduced for $460,000 in notes to be issued. Those notes will be used for bonds that will cover the cost of the new smart parking meters. The second ordinance approved allows for Athens Service-Safety Director Andy Stone to purchase the meters.

Originally, the city was going to lease a series of meters uptown so citizens would have more options; however, the city discovered that doing so would be too expensive. 

“This is a different route in which we would purchase the meters outright,” Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large, said.

City Council also discussed an ordinance for first reading about purchasing police body cameras and Tasers. The ordinance was made after Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle asked council to introduce legislation on the topic. 

Councilman Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, was impressed with Pyle’s presentation.

“To me, it was very apparent and obvious that he had done his homework,” Butler said. “I was very impressed with his understanding and knowledge of the product.”

The ordinance would approve the purchase of 20 police body cameras and Tasers from the company Axon. The cost would be about $214,179 and would also include four terabytes of storage for the cameras and training amongst other benefits. Council is exploring how insurance companies could help cover some of the costs.

“I think this is beneficial to the safety of our officers as well as the community at large,” Butler said.

Council also introduced legislation for making changes to the city’s parking garage, suggesting repainting the walls, installing new lighting, opening the stairwell and installing more signs. Signs would help streamline navigation in the parking garage and tell people where parking is available. 

Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, is glad changes are being made. She said that usually there are parking spots open in the garage that people don’t know about.

“I think this is a fantastic project,” Grace said. “And I’ve noticed that people drive very slowly in the parking garage, looking at the signs just trying to figure out ‘Can I go in there and park?’”

@abblawrence

am166317@ohio.edu

Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that the ordinance for the smart parking meters was passed. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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