The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

April 19, 2013

How residents want to see Athens in the future

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— Residents of Athens want to see the city grow from the inside out in the coming years, with such betterments as more retail stores, tidier surroundings and more amenities like parks, recreation, trees, walkways and lampposts, according to a city planning study.

“Folks want our established areas of town — older neighborhoods and downtown — revitalized and vibrant, our undeveloped pockets of land to be filled with new, appropriate development, Exit 351 to be a vibrant and attractive front door to the community, and for the overall appearance of the city to be appealing for residents and visitors,” City Planner Mac Martin told Planning Commission members this week.

Results of the study — which covered well over a year of work, including working extensively with focus groups, the online survey and the three public workshops — is available online at http://www.athensal.us. (Click on the full “Future Land Use Plan” located under the “Quick Links” bar.) 

Although only a small percentage of the city’s total residents filled out the questionnaires and attended focus groups, city planners fully intend to incorporate their wishes into the city’s plans. Martin said during the meeting, “we are going to have to craft a plan based on the opinions of 400 to 500 people in a city of 23,000 people,” adding that “this is not a problem limited to Athens.”

He was pleased with the overall response.