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Athens City Council meets atthe Athens Municipal Court on Washington Street , Feb. 26, 2024.

City council discusses construction effects on polls, local businesses

Athens City Council discussed the West Union Street construction and its effects on the upcoming election and local businesses.

West Union Street is currently a one-way road going toward Court Street from the State Routes 56 and 682 intersection to the O'Bleness Hospital entrance on West Union Street, according to an Athens city press release.  

Beth Clodfetter, D-At Large, said she had people reach out regarding the Dairy Lane and West Union Street construction. 

The Dairy Barn Arts Center, located at 8000 Dairy Lane, and Ohio Means Jobs, located at 510 W. Union St. are two of five polling sites in Athens, according to an Athens County Board of Elections document.  

Clodfetter said the board of elections will place signs on Tuesday before the polls open to help guide people to the right place.  

However, other council members have met with businesses to discuss the long-term impact of the West Union Street construction. 

Solveig Spjeldnes, D-1st Ward, said she received messages from several businesses along West Union Street. The traffic is “severely impeding their profits.”

“We know that we lost some businesses (during) Stimson Avenue’s (construction),” Spjeldnes said. 

According to a previous Post report, The Farmacy was a business that shut down in December 2023 partly due to the Stimson Avenue construction project in 2021. 

Spjeldnes said business owners want to know if the city can provide additional funding because of the “decreased business opportunity.” 

Fourth Ward Representative Alan Swank said he spoke with Jim Stricklin, owner of Larry’s Dawg House, located at 410 W Union St., about weenie Wednesdays – when hotdogs are marked down to $1.19.

“(It was the) slowest weenie Wednesday in 25 years,” Swank said. “The revenue was off by half.”

Swank said Strickland is going to cut hours for workers, which means the city is losing money from income tax. 

“The income tax is the city of Athens’ number one source – (the) greatest source of income,” Swank said. “If they're laying people off, people are making less money, they're paying less in taxes.”

Swank said some businesses are unsure if they can make it until the construction ends.

According to the city’s website, the West Union Street construction is scheduled to end in December 2024. 

In other businesses, a resolution to issue a hiring freeze for jobs funded by the city’s general fund was passed unanimously.  

"The freeze ensures the city will not go below its cash balance policy minimum," Second Ward Representative Jeff Risner read from the resolution. "However, some vacant positions need to be filled by necessity."  

The resolution will remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2024.


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