Councilwoman Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, announced during City Council’s Monday night meeting she would be stepping down from her position effective immediately.
Clodfelter accepted a job with Sen. Sherrod Brown as a regional representative. She said she appreciated working with Council and is excited to move on to her new position.
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with each one of you. I have learned a lot from each of you,” Clodfelter said. “I am still very grateful for the 2,000 plus people that voted for me to give me a chance to be on Council. I wish you all the very best and I really am sad to be leaving Council, but I am excited for this job.”
Council also discussed the creation of a designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA, in uptown Athens.
DORAs are part of an initiative by the Ohio Department of Commerce that aim to stimulate economic and social growth in Ohio cities. Inside the DORA, open container provisions are temporarily suspended, allowing patrons to leave liquor-licensed establishments and carry alcoholic beverages around within the designated area and times.
Several cities in Ohio, including Oxford and Chillicothe, have adopted DORAs. Jessica Thomas, chair of Athens Uptown Business Association, said the goal of those areas are to stimulate Athens’ business economy and draw in a younger population by creating a “social gathering aspect.”
The proposed Athens DORA would extend to parts of State Street, Washington Street, Union Street and Station Street, among others. It would only apply during city-determined hours, most likely on the weekend, and run through the summer months when most students are not on Ohio University’s campus.
Each liquor-licensed business within the area can determine whether they would like to participate, which would be indicated by a colored sticker on the establishment’s door.
“We are thinking this isn’t just a COVID reaction, but more of a long-term plan to make Athens and Athens Uptown just a place people want to be,” Thomas said.
Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, also introduced a resolution for Athens to join the Power a Clean Future Ohio initiative, which aims to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed resolution would commit Athens to a goal of reducing its carbon emissions to 50% of its 2010 levels by 2030, exceeding the initiative’s goal of reducing emissions by 30%.
Following city-wide audits, the council would create a plan in FY22 that would provide a roadmap to achieve its emission goals while prioritizing affordability.
Council designated $100,000 of unappropriated general funds to repair damage to the ARTS/West building resulting from a car collision in late April. Several members expressed that more funds may be needed in the future as repairs continue.
Athens was awarded an $83,100 grant for a wastewater-based COVID-19 surveillance program, which would help communicate infection prevalence in the population to the community. The grant fully covers new wastewater sampling devices, which will be installed throughout the city in collaboration with Ohio University.
After committee sessions, council went into a special session, approving several ordinances and amendments. Landscaping regulations were revised to restrict the use of non-native species in commercial landscaping and established celebration tree and pollinator programs.