Cassie Kelly | September 19, 2013
The street improvement project at the University Estates neighborhood that has, at times, seemed tedious to residents and city leaders, is nearing completion, making driving in and out of the neighborhood smoother for residents there.
Final touches are to wrap up Sept. 23, according to a city news release, capping about a month of construction and about six months of planning.
City officials had argued that they didn’t have to act when residents complained about bad roads because the streets in the 830-acre neighborhood were not city owned; but, in June, Athens City Council voted unanimously to approve construction, which started Aug. 20.
“While the city was under no duty to act, we are being proactive because there are citizens who live there,” said Andy Stone, the city engineer and director of Public Works.
The University Estates neighborhood has been established for about a decade but had always been neglected by the city, said Elizabeth Welsh, homeowner in the neighborhood and dentist at Athens Dental Arts.
Welsh said no one was willing to fix it before, but she’s glad the city finally did. She believes the improvements will help with property values and create a safer environment for children to play.
“Our kids can ride their bikes safely up and down the street,” she said.
Project costs were originally estimated at $453,000, but the final total may be more because of unexpected costs incurred during construction. Even still, Stone said, expenses will not exceed $500,000.
Outcry from homeowners essentially forced council to get involved. Residents eventually formed a petition to get the streets fixed and agreed to take part in paying for the project — but it hasn’t yet been figured out how much each homeowner has to pay.
Once the city has a final cost, specific payment estimates will be sketched out. Residents can choose to pay a lump sum or installments over a ten-year period.
Maintenance and plowing will now be provided by the city so it never returns to its old state.
Once the streets are completed — all that is left to do is put down a second coat of tar — the improvements will enhance residents’ quality of life, Butler said, but more importantly will increase safety in the area.
“We are relieved that it’s finally done,” Welsh said. “It’s a nice neighborhood.”
Read the original story in The Post, here.