Athens readies for sidewalk grant effort

·2 min read

May 29—There was a lot of action, but not much talk as the Athens City Council breezed through several second readings of ordinances on Monday night as well as a public hearing.

Mayor Pro-Tem Toni Clay presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Monte Montgomery.The public hearing concerned an effort to get more than $2 million in grant money from the Texas Department of Transportation for major upgrades and additions to sidewalks on South Palestine Street, which is a section of State Highway 19 within the city.

"One of the things we have discussed through our master planning process is implementation of better sidewalk and bicycle facilities in the city," City Manager Elizabeth Borstad said.

The city is planning the sidewalk work in two phases. The first grant would cover sidewalks on South Palestine from College Street to Ben Belt Drive, The second picks up at Ben Belt and connects to Hillside Drive, farther south.

The highly competitive TxDOT grant program provides funding for construction of a variety of alternative transportation projects, including sidewalks. Applications are due in June.

Borstad said the city already is working with TxDOT for a large project which would make East Tyler Street sidewalk accessible from downtown to the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Other activity at the meeting on Monday included approval of several ordinances. They include:

—amending the code to enter the fee structure for the Cain Center;

—amending the budget for the current fiscal year to pay for the purchase of public safety vehicles;

—annexation of the two acre Henderson County Performing Arts Center property on Gibson Road and

—approving an ordinance to change the site plan on a property at 4905 NE South Loop 7 to allow conversion from a church building to an events center.

Also at the meeting, Clay read a proclamation commemorating the Athens Old Fiddlers Reunion.

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