The Commission on Disabilities communicated its annual report and committees discussed possible parking changes at City Council’s Monday meeting.
David McNelly, vice-chair of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities, invited all residents to attend commission meetings. Those are held every third Wednesday of the month at the Community Center at 5 p.m., excluding December.
“We act as a liaison between members of community and local government and we’re really just trying to support people with disabilities,” McNelly said. "We try to be a representative voice of the people."
Commission member Carolyn Lewis also spoke at the meeting, calling attention to recent changes made by the organization.
“We made a concerted effort to expand,” Lewis said. “Now we have folks of the community with different organizations, different skills, and we have some younger people, which really helps to make our work easy and more interesting."
Noah Trembly, treasurer of the Commission on Disabilities, discussed the progress achieved by the efforts of the commission. He gave an update on the uptown audits the group has been conducting.
“The accessibility committee has been very busy,” Trembly said. “We haven't done very many new (audits) this year, but I'm proud to report that Casa took our work very serious and did most of the low hanging fruit that we pointed out.”
According to Trembly, that work included installing a doorbell on the accessible entrance, making pathways wider and providing braille menus.
“We plan to get back to doing some more audits and we need to follow up with a couple of businesses that we have already worked with,” Trembly said.
Councilman Pat McGee, I-At Large, is the only City Council member on the commission board.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the commission,” McGee said. “You’re all inspiring.”
Councilman Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, continued the conversation on making Athens more accessible for all by addressing a problem with the city’s sidewalks.
“We have telephone poles in the middle of the sidewalk,” Butler said. “If you're able bodied that's great, you can get around that.”
Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, of the Planning and Development Committee informed Council she plans to introduce an ordinance next week to lighten parking penalties.
Grace will formally propose that all accessible parking spaces are to reduce their charge to match the “low intensity zone” designated fee regardless of what zone they're in.
Grace also hopes to move the time in which metered parking space fees are enforced up to 7 p.m.
A Democrat and City Council At-Large candidate, Beth Clodfelter, voiced her support for Grace’s plan.
“Moving the time back to 7 will allow people to go to a 5 o’clock movie or a 6 o’clock dinner without fear of getting a ticket when they come back,” Clodfelter said.
Others pushed for even further action in moving the time up even earlier to 6 p.m.
"I would applaud this as progress,” McGee said. “I would even suggest lowering to 6 p.m. like it used to be.”
Athens resident Rob Delach was among multiple community members who spoke at the meeting in favor of Grace’s plan. He commended Council on its willingness to engage in the discussion.
“I think it's good government,” Delach said.