Thumbs Up for Proposed Features of Downtown Master Plan for Athens

Those in attendance approved of how the plan is evolving and what it contains.

Sanni Baumgaertner was among the 200 or so people who turned out Thursday night for Step Two of the Downtown Master Plan. She liked what she saw, which was a fleshing out of ideas gleamed from a November meeting she attended.

 "I think the plan is heading in the right direction," she said. "I like the focus on public participation and the fact that we get to give our opinion."

And what did the public see and vote on?

Features related to connectivity, green space and transportation. On the screen were a rail line running through campus along the Norfolk and Southern rail line; a linear park connecting downtown to Lay Park and the Lyndon House; a beefed-up role for Dudley Park, with the restored trestles and a commuter shed along the Firefly Trail; and a new park behind City Hall where there's now a parking lot.

There's a 10,000-seat amphitheatre behind the Classic Center going toward the river and a park around a retention pond near the Multi-Modal Center.

Notably absent from the list of green space ideas was College Square, which many people want to close between Clayton and Broad Street. The idea of closing the street didn't sit well with members of the Steering Committee, Crowley said, and so it didn't come before the larger public.

"They said why throw up iffy and devisive ideas that will take everyone's attention away from the other good ideas?" Crowley said. "I say why don't we build all these other things and then see how people feel about it? See if the retail people are okay with it then."

In addition to proposals, the presentation also offered ways to pay for the improvements--through land leasing, SPLOST and a tax allocation district.

Those who didn't get to attend Thursday's meeting can still offer comments on the plan by going to the website.

You may also be interested in reading:

Public Vetting of Downtown Master Plan Ideas Set for April 25th

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