Members of Athens City Council voted Monday in favor of Athens Mayor Steve Patterson entering the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia Council of Governments during their regular meeting.

Being a part of that council would allow Mayor Patterson to collaborate with other southeastern municipalities on the construction of Bailey’s Trail. Stretching about 88 miles, Bailey’s Trail would become a system of connected pathways from Chauncey to Nelsonville. The trail has been a project of the Wayne National Forest since 1994, according to a previous Post report

Council members discussed some of the powers of the proposed regional council. The council would be organized similarly to a park district but will not have the exact same powers as one. Many of the council’s abilities are yet to be discussed, and the ordinance serves simply to allow Mayor Patterson to join the council.

“A lot of that still needs to be worked out,” Dawn McCarthy, acting public affairs officer of the Wayne National Forest, said. “There is room for that to be discussed.”

During its third reading, council decided to table the Complete Streets ordinance.

Complete Streets is a national program that aims at making city pathways safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities, according to a previous Post report

The program would help improve Athens’ bike paths, walkways and pedestrian infrastructure. Proponents of the ordinance said that it would also help the city plan for future developments. 

The ordinance was tabled by Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large.

“I would just like to take it back to committee, so we can have additional conversation on it,” Kotses said.

Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said that she appreciates the ordinance being tabled because there were a lot of questions on the ordinance during Complete Streets training.

Members also approved two ordinances dealing with shared active transportation. Those include e-scooters and e-bicycles. 

The first ordinance approved amending city code to include shared active transportation in Title 11, which deals with business regulations. 

The ordinance includes a section where shared active transportation would be allowed within city limits. E-scooters would not be permitted in the Athens business district. 

Councilman Jeffrey Risner, D-2nd Ward, urged council to pass the ordinance in order to allow e-transportation vendors to come to Athens.

“This is a technology whose time has come,” Risner said. “I think the best thing to do is to get as far ahead of it as we can.”

Councilman Pat McGee, I-At Large, said that council must consider its signage for e-scooter use. Some people in Athens are confused by current city signage and don’t know where they cannot use certain modes of transportation such as skateboards.

“I would just emphasize to the administration ... I think we really need to take a look at what kind of signage we’re putting out to the public,” McGee said.

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