Council Eyes Grant To Make Sells Park Wheelchair Accessible

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Athens City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance Monday authorizing the mayor to apply for a Nature Works grant with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 

The $22,000 grant will be used to build a wheelchair access ramp at Sells Park off East State Street.

Council member Steve Patterson, who sponsored the ordinance, said the construction could begin soon, if the city gets the money. 

"It's a competitive grant, but it looks like the project could actually be completed by fall if we're successful in getting the grant," he said. 

The original plans for the grant involved improvements to the West State Street Park. Patterson said, however, the Sells Park project was a better use of the grant money since the West State Street Park already has recreational facilities.

The council member serves on the Commission of Disabilities in Athens, and said he's noticed that many disabled Athens residents are unable to enjoy the park.

"I realized that there was a rather large constituency of Athens residents who may never get to see that part [of the park] because their wheelchairs don't afford them the opportunity to motor on up there and enjoy the park up above the street level," he said. "In talking with individuals that I serve with on the Commission of Disabilities, they actually didn't even know that there was a pond up there partially because they can't get up there."

If Mayor Paul Wiehl's application is approved, the city would be reimbursed for 75 percent of the grant money spent.