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City Council meets together on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.

City Council: Committees discuss possible land acquisition for new fire station

Athens City Council met Monday to hear from committees, including the Committee of the Whole and the Planning and Development Committee, who discussed a possible land acquisition for the new fire station as well as a grant application to plant trees in Athens. 

City Council President Chris Knisley, speaking for the Committee of the Whole, said Ohio University passed a resolution approving the sale of approximately 10.6 acres of land on Stimson Avenue over the weekend. 

Knisely said the resolution would only allow the city to develop up to 3 acres of land, require them to maintain approximately 6 acres of green space and allow the university to maintain a right-of-way along the northwestern edge of the leased land. They also requested the option of the leaseback of $1 per year for up to one acre of the remaining land for a university police station. 

If Council were to approve buying the land, Knisley said the purchase price, which will be independently appraised, has an estimated value of $350,000 to $550,000.  

Service Safety Director Andrew Stone said one of the benefits of OU placing restrictions on the resolution is that it will force the appraisal price to decrease. 

“If you think about when you go and sell land to somebody, if they can do whatever they want on that land, it’s going to have its highest appraised value,” Stone said. “But the more restrictions they put on it, the less you can do with that land and the less the property is worth.”

Stone said ideally, he would want firefighters to be able to use the fire station by the winter of 2023. 

The Planning and Development Committee discussed the Shade Tree Commission’s desire to apply for an Urban Canopy grant. 

Councilman Ben Ziff, D-At Large, said the grant is through the USDA Forest Service and it is a matching grant. It would allow the planting of trees in the city’s right of way that would be owner-maintained. 

Ziff said the options for the grant are between $5,000 and $25,000, and because it is matching, the city would then put forth the same amount as what is received from the grant.

Mayor Steve Patterson said the intent would be to go for the $25,000 grant because the city could use money from its tree bank to match the funds. 

Ziff said because the trees would be owner maintained, he believes that the Shade Tree Commission intends to put together a packet for each person who would get a tree with basic information on how to care for the tree. 

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