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

City Council discusses DORA extension, membership fees

Athens City Council met Monday evening and discussed ordinances surrounding Dedicated Outdoor Refreshment Areas, or DORA, and paying the 2024 membership fee for the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia, or OCRA. 

Council discussed extending the Athens Uptown DORA to Stimson Avenue. DORAs are designated areas exempt from open container prohibitions. 

Mayor Steve Patterson spoke about the success of DORAs in other areas. 

“This is a tool of the Department of Commerce basically to promote commerce within multiple municipalities,” Patterson said. 

Patterson reiterated that the ability to have an open container can only be within the parameters of the DORA. Service-Safety Director Andrew Stone said police have had no problem with public safety with the current DORA.

“It’s not uncommon for cities to expand their DORA footprint,“ Patterson said. "Several mayors have found that to be very successful." 

Councilmember Mark Wood, D-3rd Ward, introduced an ordinance authorizing the mayor to pay the 2024 membership fees for ORCA to provide financial support for the Baileys Trail System. 

The $90,000 would come from the city’s general fund and would support the Baileys Trail System and other recreational activities.  

“We’ve had a lot of businesses in other parts of the community struggling asking for stability and asking us to be active and proactive,“ Wood said. "This is a super cheap way to do it."

Wood clarified that these funds are funds that were already approved.

Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, shared an email the councilmembers received from County Auditor Kathy Hecht, in which she requests a hold on all future general fund appropriations until the fund balance increases to at least 9%.

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