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Mayor Steve Patterson talks with members of the Athens City Commission on Diabilities before the City Council meeting, Jan. 22, 2024, Athens, Ohio.

City Council discusses accessibility for individuals with disabilities

Athens City Council met in committees Monday evening to discuss the Athens City Commission on Disabilities’ annual report and essential city services to address the needs of individuals with disabilities. 

Chaired by David McNelly, the commission is dedicated to providing a means of addressing the concerns of people with disabilities to be heard and to offer expertise to the community on disabilities.

The commission urged the council to continue involving them and individuals with disabilities in decision-making processes concerning city planning, streetscaping projects and various city programs and services. 

Additionally, the commission advocated for the continuation of the accessibility matching grant program at its current level for this year and the potential for a 10-year plan for addressing accessibility issues in Athens.

“What do people think of when they think of Athens? They think about the town, they think of all the fun times they’ve had,”  McNelly said. “What do people who have a disability think about Athens? A town but also the sidewalk potholes and how hard it is to get around.”

Allyson Hughes, co-chair of the commission, discussed an accessibility matrix the commission uses to track accessibility issues around the city.

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Athens City Council meets Jan. 22, 2024, at the Athens Municipal Court on Washington Street.


The matrix documents specific sidewalks, intersections, or other areas requiring repairs or improvements. The matrix is updated frequently and shared with the city to help prioritize which accessibility issues need to be addressed, Hughes said.

Councilmember Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, discussed the forfeited property at 83 Columbus Rd., a former gas station property that the city acquired in 2012.

The city used water funds to pay for remediating the property by removing underground storage tanks and contaminated soil.

Swank proposed transferring the city-owned property to the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) for economic development purposes, with the potential for a buyer.

Municipalities use CICs to help with economic development projects. Using a CIC allows Athens to have more control over properties such as 83 Columbus Rd., rather than selling them to the highest bidder.

Mayor Steve Patterson highlighted the potential benefits of the redevelopment of the site, such as the potential for new jobs and increased tax revenue for the city.

The goal is to continue improving that area as more people and businesses are nearby.


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