A concept of the green space Mayor Patterson desires to see on West Union Street.

Athens Mayor Wants New Green Space on West Union

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When the reconstruction of fire damaged buildings between Congress and Court is complete, Athens Mayor Steve Patterson has an idea for bringing new life to the area by creating a “green-space” from part of West Union Street.

“Other cities out there have taken a streetscape and completely rethought how it could be used,” said the Mayor. “Do we need to have two lanes of traffic and two sides for parking, or can we instead create a plaza that’s a meeting space with benches and planters and trees?”

One vision of Patterson’s plan would permanently change the configuration of the street to what it is is now because of the construction – one for parking, one for driving, and then a left-turn lane starting near Goodfella’s Pizza.

The area on West Union currently under construction that may one day be home to benches, fountains, and trees.
The area on West Union currently under construction that may one day be home to benches, fountains, and trees.

Some business owners on West Union Street have thrown their support behind the idea. Art Oestrike, owner of Jackie O’s Pub, even went so far as to contact a local architect who developed a concept of what such a space could look like.

Patterson envisions the space as a nature path towards College Green across the intersection of Court and Union.

“It would make a continuous, organic flow of where people would meet and greet and get out and enjoy life,” he said. “It can be a gathering space, as opposed to it returning to simply a sidewalk and two lanes of traffic buzzing back and forth.”

While some have expressed concern the change would increase congestion, Paterson said he believes most have grown used to the current traffic pattern.

“There are a lot of alternatives that people have already adapted to” he said. “They’ve learned with West Union between Congress and Court Street that before they even get there, they have a choice to go in some other direction.”

Although no official action on the plan has been taken, the Mayor plans to present the proposal to Athens City Council soon.

“I can only imagine this past weekend being Mom’s Weekend that there would have been a lot of parents with their children who would have gathered out there,” said Patterson. “There are other events that occur throughout the year where I think people would love to have something like this.”