The Athens City Council voted unanimously Monday to bring back the brick to the downtown Square, but only a portion will be uncovered.
The council voted unanimously to amend its paving contract with Reed Construction and pave all parts of the Square except for Market Street from Marion Street to the railroad tracks. The estimated cost is $300,000.
Last week, Tuscaloosa-based Asphalt Restoration Co. was invited to Athens by resident Scott Marshall, who has been leading the most recent campaign to restore the brick streets. Asphalt Restoration Co. uncovered a 30-yard section of asphalt, revealing a section of undamaged brick.
Council President Harold Wales said he was thrilled by the finding. Other members of the council visited the site prior to Monday's vote.
“I would like to see the whole Square in brick like they have at Auburn, but it's just not going to happen right now,” Wales said, urging his fellow council members to approve uncovering the Market Street section at a minimum. “I don't have all the costs written down, but Public Works has given us a pro and con list. At least it's a start and everybody got something.”
The total cost of removing the asphalt and restoring the brick is largely unknown. Marshall told the council at the July 15 meeting he was aware there could be sections where cuts were made into the bricks to accommodate utility projects. He also said there was a large pile of original brick that was removed during the current Square improvements.
Mayor Ronnie Marks told the council if they preferred to repave the whole Square, a portion of the previously removed bricks would be used for historical marker foundations. The markers will be reinstalled around the Square when the ongoing improvements are complete. He explained the bricks could also be used as part of the park to be built at the former Pilgrim's Pride property on Pryor Street.
“(The bricks) certainly have historic value,” he said, adding council members “don't know what you're going to run into” with their decision to uncover the section of Market Street.
Despite casing a “yes” vote, Councilman Frank Travis said he believed the whole Square should be paved. Following the meeting, Councilman Chris Seibert said if the targeted section of Market Street proves to be too damaged to save, the council could again amend its paving contract and pave that section.
In a separate move Monday, the council voted to amend its contract with Reed to pave several residential streets in each of the council members' respective districts. In May, Marks told the council the city had set aside $600,000 from the alcohol fund to be divided between the five districts.
Public Works Director James Rich said the final price could be closer to $660,000.
Streets projects are as follows:
• District 1: Walnut Street and Holland and East drives. At the July 15 meeting, the council entered into an agreement with Whitaker Contracting Corp. for the application of HA5, an asphalt preservative, in the Eastbrook and Gilbert Place subdivisions;
• District 2: Winged Foot Lane, Hazeltine Drive and Winged Foot Lane from the entrance of Piney Creek to Cherry Hill Street;
• District 3: Judy Drive and streets within the South Side, Sommers South and Bonnie Doone Estates subdivisions;
• District 4: Streets within the Oakwood and Bates subdivisions and Dara, Barbara, Wayne and Pat streets; and
• District 5: Streets within the Airport subdivision, Henry Drive, Sanders Street, Malone Street and West Hobbs Street from Horton Street to Malone Street.
In other business, the council:
• Held a public hearing, then passed a resolution to vacate a public alley near Market Street Church of Christ;
• Held a public hearing on a rezoning request at 17745 Quinn Road from single-family, low-density residential district to single-family, high-density residential. The request was made by Terrell Carden. An ordinance to rezone the property was introduced but not voted on because the council had questions about sewer availability for the development;
• Held a public hearing on annexing 25 acres of property on the west side of Lucas Ferry Road and 1,300 feet north of the intersection of West Sanderfer Road. A separate public hearing was held regarding a request to rezone the 25 acres and an adjoining 16 acres from single-family, low-density residential district to single-family, high-density residential. The council passed ordinances on the annexation and rezoning requests, which were made by Lucas Ferry Properties LLC;
• Held a public hearing on an application by Mozza Pizzeria & Sports Bar to sell alcohol;
• Appointed Sally Marks to the Athens Historic Preservation Commission for a three-year term ending July 22, 2022;
• Authorized the Water Services Department to purchase a John Deere mini excavator from Trigreen Equipment at a cost of $59,382.70; and
• Approved the purchase of a new excavator for the gas department at a cost of $104,796.