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Mayor Steve Patterson at the Athens City Council meeting, Nov. 6, 2023.

City Council discusses new fire headquarters, armory budget

Athens City Council met Monday evening to discuss updated plans for a new Athens Fire Department fire headquarters, under construction on 120 E. Stimson Ave., and disposal of municipal vehicles, among other ordinances. 

Service-Safety Director Andy Stone said the fire headquarters construction is currently on track to be completed on time. 

Amid short staffing at the fire stations in Athens, Councilmember Micah McCarey, D-At Large, said more firefighters will be hired when Athens’ economy can fund them adequately. 

“We will consider hiring more firefighters when the Athens economy grows to provide the income tax base necessary to fund them,” McCarey wrote in an email. “The new station is at least a 50-year building, possibly 100 years, and is being built to house twice as many firefighters as we have today – but we will only hire more as Athens grows such that revenue will support it.”

Council also authorized the installation of electrical services from the Ohio Power Company and Ohio Corporation and the unit of American Electric Power for the installation of electrical services to the new fire station. With this, the city will sign an agreement with Columbia Gas of Ohio for the new fire headquarters. 

Councilmember Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, talked about renovations for the armory project. Acquired by the city in the 1990s, the armory is now being converted into a community and business center for the city’s use. 

“The first floor is going to be run by an organization called Blue Dot, which is a remote working business. They will offer remote working spaces to people who want to come to Athens and work remotely,” Crowl said. “Then the Athens County Foundation will also have their headquarters in that building.”

Crowl said the total renovations for the armory will cost about $7 million. 

Council suspended rules to fast-track the passing of two ordinances introduced by Councilmember Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward. Risner’s ordinances included authorizing Stone to donate Athens City buses to other cities or governmental agencies. A new leaf collector will be purchased for $250,000 after the city trades in their previous models from 1977 and 1989. 

Stone reflected on crowd management and arrests from Halloween weekend. He said that from the evening of the Athens Block Party until the next morning at 4 a.m., Athens City Police made six arrests, and one bar was cited for overcrowding by the fire marshalls. 

Council then moved into executive session to discuss collective bargaining in the presence of all council members, the mayor, and the safety and law director. The council will be meeting in committees next Monday. 


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