Athens officials estimate $56,000 in damage done after Bulldogs National Championship win

The damage that resulted in downtown Athens after a jubilant celebration in early January over the University of Georgia’s second national football championship amounted to almost $56,000, according to information recently released by Athens-Clarke police.

The damage occurred mostly along Clayton Street, a main throughfare that was the subject of an improvement project that widened the sidewalks and installed new trees, lighting and artwork.

Police estimated that from 10,000 to 15,000 people congregated in downtown at about 11:30 p.m. Jan. 9 as people “stormed out of the bars.”

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One of the obvious targets by celebrants was to the newly installed “Frequency” artwork, an ensemble of blue-pipe designs, where damage was estimated at $16,000.

“We are in talks now with the contractor and it’s our full intention to replace the artwork. There may be some modifications to it, but at this time those are still being discussed with the artist,” said Kent Kilpatrick, director of the city’s Park and Leisure Services.

Significant damage was done to newly planted trees along the street including those on College Avenue

Police reported that about $31,500 in damage was done to the new trees, but several reasons factor into that cost, according to Galvin Hassemer, director of the city’s Central Services.

“In the College Square area, the trees were actually removed from the (planting) wells,” he said. “There are about a half dozen completely gone. Also, on Clayton Street in general, there were a number of trees that the branches were snapped off or left hanging. Some were wiggled back and forth by people pulling and tugging on them. In time they will have to be replaced."

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He estimated that at least 20 trees will need to be replaced and part of the replacement cost is dealing with the wells that were installed with drip irrigation and filled with a special mix of soil that allows for the trees to grow in small areas.

“The plan is contingent on funding whether from an insurance claim or something recouped from a responsible party or it comes out of our budget. We haven’t finalized that,” Hessemer said.

A large directory sign on Clayton Street was also pulled away from its foundation.

“The sign was recovered and will be reinstalled,” said David Lynn, planning director for the Athens Downtown Development Authority. “It’s a little challenging because it’s a brand new sidewalk and we didn’t particularly want to bore into the new sidewalk."

“It’s a little disheartening. The sign was just put up,” Lynn added.

Also damaged and torn away were numerous street signs.

“They were damaged, but luckily, they were recovered. There were about 15 signs of ours that were knocked down,” said Stephen Bailey, director of Transportation and Public Works.

“At this point, they have all been put back up,” he said.

On the night of this downtown celebration, police also reported numerous arrests including people carrying open containers of alcohol beverages on streets, underage drinkers, people with fake identifications and several cases were made against young men urinating in public places.

This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Athens officials plan repairs to downtown art and trees