Public safety top concern at town hall

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks speaks to the crowd during a District 3 town hall meeting Tuesday at Pincham-Lincoln Community Center. Among the topics covered during the meeting were matters of public safety.

Several Athens city officials held a town hall meeting Tuesday for residents of District 3 at Pincham-Lincoln Community Center.

Mayor Ronnie Marks, City Council President Frank Travis and Police Chief Floyd Johnson were available to give updates and answer citizens' questions and concerns.

Among the topics discussed were the new location of Jimmy Gill Park, city growth and public safety.

The town hall was scheduled after several concerned citizens living in the area around Somerset Drive attended the Athens City Council's June 8 meeting asking for help dealing with unlawful elements frequenting the neighborhood.

Other concerns were brought before the officials, including cleaning up city-owned property, speeding, littering, roads needing paved and cleaning up one site in particular that was being used for illicit activities. Debra Wood told the officials the old motel near her home on Montreat Drive is regularly visited by people using drugs and engaging in sexual activities.

Public safety was the main item of concern, as multiple citizens spoke of people creating unsafe conditions in the area, including blocking traffic, intimidating residents and threatening people with violence.

Johnson said he took an “old-fashioned” approach when trying to help ease the situation.

I went out there (with other members of the department), and we walked the neighborhood,” he said. “We talked to some people and got some input. We have been out there multiple times seeing what we can do.”

Johnson said APD increased patrols and put several other things in place to try to help out the neighborhood. More than one resident who spoke during the town hall said things had been a lot quieter since the police presence was increased.

Marks noted, however, that the problem wasn't created overnight, so it won't be fixed overnight, either. Travis thanked everyone who attended the town hall to share their thoughts and concerns.

Recommended for you