Note: This story appears in the Friday, Oct. 11 newspaper on Page A1.
Property owners in a portion of uptown Athens may have an opportunity to join a special improvement district to provide funding for enhancement of the area.
Special Improvement Districts are private organizations established when over 60 percent of property owners agree to join forces and pool funds for projects determined by an overarching SID board of directors. Those projects could be anything from sidewalk improvements to snow and gum removal, as well as planting flowers and other visual improvements.
One possible use of the SID that’s been discussed would be to install free, public Wi-Fi for the uptown area. No specific projects have been promised, as the SID has yet to be additionally be approved by Athens City Council.
The proposed district would stretch vertically from Carpenter to President Streets, and horizontally from College to Congress Streets. (This would not include the residential areas of those streets.)
Mayor Steve Patterson has lent his support to the project, as have the Athens County Commissioners and officials at Ohio University.
At a committee meeting where the SID was discussed, Patterson had stated that he had only approached property owners of businesses, and had not asked any of the churches on Court Street to be a part of the district.
The SID is anticipated to cost the city about $14,000 a year to be taken from the Athens Enhancement fund. Supporters have said the improvement to the high-traffic uptown area is worth the investment.