Perimeter Lighting Returning To Downtown Athens

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Downtown Athens will be getting a facelift in the form of perimeter lighting this fall as the Athens Uptown Business Association, Ohio University and the city of Athens have partnered for the project.

According to AUBA President John Wharton, perimeter lighting was installed on the tops of downtown buildings about 20 years ago. He said the past project didn’t include all buildings and the lights eventually were in disrepair, leading to an unattractive sight.

But now with technology improvements such as LED lights, most downtown businesses have agreed to have white perimeter lighting installed on their buildings.

Wharton said that the lights will line the buildings on Court Street from Union Street to Carpenter Street, noting that the only gaps will be at the Court Street Diner and BP gas station.

Wharton said AUBA began talking about bringing back the lights about a year ago. He said the group originally wanted to get the lighting in place prior to the Bounty on the Bricks fundraiser in August, but that didn’t happen. The new goal is to have it operating this fall before the start of the holiday shopping season. Wharton emphasized that the lighting isn’t just for the holidays though.

On Monday, Athens City Councilwoman Chris Knisely said the estimate for the project is around $46,700, with $20,000 contributed by Ohio University and $28,000 contributed by AUBA members. She said the city would be willing to provide up to $5,000 if the project costs more than expected, but said she doesn’t think the city funds will be necessary.

“The project won’t cost the taxpayers a dime,” Wharton said.

According to Wharton, business owners were asked to contribute $12.20 per linear foot for the project. Property owners will also foot the electric bill for the lights. Wharton said because LED lights are being used, electric costs should be minimal. He said there’s also the possibility of having a local solar company install a solar array to power the lights.

Wharton said the lights could be expanded to side streets in the future.