Here are a few impressions of Thursday night's open house on infrastructure improvements coming to East Clayton, Wall and Jackson streets, beginning in January. The entire program represents $7 million in SPLOST funds, says manager Derek Doster.
* There are no bike lanes in the new configuration. Doster says that's because the center loading lane remains intact and sidewalks on Clayton grow to 13 feet. The bigger sidewalks can handle pedestrians and those eating at outdoor tables. The lanes are important because a fire truck needs 24 feet to set up.
* The gingko trees downtown and the oaks are all coming down. New gingkoes won't replace the cut trees because there's no way to know the sex of a gingko tree and the females have an unpleasant odor. Officials aren't sure what kind of trees will be planted.
* A corner trash corral troubles several business people. There was talk of making it a brick enclosure and trying to make it attractive, as well as six feet tall, but safety concerns nixed that design. Seems an assailant could crouch behind a tall structure and leap out and bonk someone on the head. Jane Scott of Native America suggested putting a digit lock on the corral to prevent people from rummaging through the trash.
* A trash corral? Yes, it's a destination for roll carts full of trash and recycling materials. Business owners could roll their carts to the corral, where solid waste employees would retrieve them. Right now, businesses are using trash bags and are often dragging their bags across the sidewalk, leaving garbage juice in their wake. The garbage juice smells of stale beer and discarded food. The corral is an alternative to alleys, which don't really exist in downtown Athens.
* For the program to succeed, Doster said, "There's going to have to be a lot of communication."