Change headed Athens’ way in 2018

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By Samantha Taylor Messenger Staff Journalist


The city of Athens can expect to see some big changes in 2018.

Having officially entered the new year, Athens City Council itself will see some new faces join its membership at the upcoming first council meeting of the year. Those new members include Sarah Grace and Samuel Emerson Crowl.

Here are four other changes residents can expect to see happen in Athens this year.

New city pool

After years of discussion and planning by council, construction of a new pool finally began after the end of the 2017 summer swimming season. Prior to the its demolition, a send-off ceremony was held by the city to recognize residents’ fond memories of time spent at the more than 40-year-old pool, which first opened in 1972.

The Messenger previously reported the project is to be completed by May 18 in order to open in time for the summer season.

Gutknecht Construction is the company constructing the new pool at the sight of the former pool, which will include a zero-depth entry that deepens to 3.5 feet, a pool for diving and lap swim, a pool for a slide, a kiddie pool and a splash pool.

Construction on East State

Drivers beware: East State Street will get a little harrier due to a construction project slated to begin on the road in the summer.

The project, which will include milling and resurfacing of East State Street as well as the inclusion of a bike lane, was originally supposed to take place in this past fall but was delayed delayed due to lack of an acceptable bid on the project.

The resurfacing portion of the project will complement the work that the Ohio Department of Transportation is doing at the interchange of Route 33 and East State Street, which includes creating additional turn lanes on the ramps to move traffic through the intersection faster. That work is also slated to be completed during the summer.

HAPCAP takes over city transit

Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) officially took over Athens City Transit on Monday, Jan. 1, replacing the previously contracted McDonald Transit Associates, a private company based in Fort Worth, Texas that was tasked with running the transit system’s operations. Now, HAPCAP has begun providing the service operations completely in-house.

The change means that HAPCAP has taken over the hiring process for all transit employees and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the system. HAPCAP Transportation Director Jessica Stroh told The Messenger in October that all transit employees were notified of the change and had the opportunity to go through an interview process to keep their jobs.

New Athens art

Work to replace the current mural on Stimson Avenue with a brand new one will begin this spring. In November, the Athens Municipal Arts Commission announced it had selected the artwork to replace the 17-year-old mural.

The work, titled “Release,” depicts several doves flying. Athens resident Keith Wilde created the selected piece as a submission for a AMAC-led project to replace the current mural, which had outlived its artist life, according to AMAC chair Carol Patterson.

“Symbolically, white doves are aspirational symbols of peace and love. In the mural they represent the people of our community. We are busy, energetic, concerned about details — like the close-ups of doves on the left,” Wilde wrote in his submission application. “We are also dreamers, ambassadors of big ideas, filled with high ideals, able to take flight, and beautifully transcendent — like the most distant doves on the right. We transition between these different selves on a daily basis.”

In preparation for Wilde to paint his piece, the wall will be whitewashed on Athens Beautification Day, scheduled for April 22.

In addition to the new mural, 10 traffic boxes around the city will receive artistic makeovers this year. Vinyl wraps depicting artwork from various Athens area artists will cover the additional traffic boxes, which has already been done to 10 other traffic boxes in the city. Sometime after this next round, 10 more boxes will be covered with art as well, eventually leaving the city with 30 traffic boxes covered with art.