Athens Commission Discusses Athens Justice and Memory Project, Project Developments | City News
Representatives of several organizations and projects in Athens presented recommendations and updates to the Mayor and the Commission on the points to be considered during the October 11 working session.
The insurance and contract process for VAC
Jeff Hale, director of human resources for Athens-Clarke County, and James Westbury, manager of property and liability claims at the Georgia Municipal Association, provided the commission with information on the risk management contract process. and outlined contractual insurance requirements in a presentation at the meeting.
Westbury explained the process to emphasize the importance of reviewing contracts.
“It could lead to a reputational risk, and that’s not really the kind of risk you think about when you’re contracting people and making contractual demands. You really envision having a resource that will be available in the event of a claim so that you have the financial capacity so that it goes to someone who is not the unified government,” Westbury said.
The Athens Justice and Memory Project and the Linnetown Losses
Hattie Thomas Whitehead, co-chair of the Athens Justice and Memory Project and former Linnentown resident, and Jerry Shannon, professor of geography at the University of Georgia, shared with the commission their presentation on the financial losses of former Linnentown residents.
Shannon explained the effects of the urban renewal project to which ACC and UGA contributed during the 1960s and the amount of monetary reparation owed to displaced former residents of Linnetown.
According to Shannon’s presentation and the findings of an underpayment analysis and an estimated total lost appreciation, the losses amount to $5,022,375.
Whitehead then presented the breakdown of what the university and the ACC owe in reparations, with UGA and the ACC owing approximately $2.5 million each.
Whitehead recommended the ACC allocate its half of the loss estimate, with $1.25 million of what the unified city and county government needs to go to affordable housing, including assistance with down payment and housing repair assistance. The other $1.25 million would go to community education through the development of the Athens-Clarke County Center for Racial Justice and Black Futures.
Commissioners and Mayor Kelly Girtz expressed support for this plan following Whitehead’s presentation.
After District 6 Commissioner Jesse Houle asked where UGA’s share of $2.5 million in reparations would be allocated, Whitehead clarified the location of the projects those funds would go to.
“If they came to the table, we would ask them to contribute to this [affordable housing] to help the community,” Whitehead said.
Various site extensions, funding and development
Representatives from Advantage Behavioral Health Systems discussed their request to expand their facility to better provide the Athens-Clarke County community with mental health services.
Tammy Conlin, CEO of Advantage Behavioral Health, and Evan Mills, Director of Development and Housing for Advantage Behavioral Health, explained how using ARPA funds would enable the renovation of the Athens property.
SPLOST Project Administrator John Simoneaux also provided the mayor and commission with updates on the Justice Center renovation.
“That’s how we came to this analysis of alternatives trying to look for creative alternatives to bridge that gap between the project schedule and the funds that we have,” Simoneaux said.
The analysis of alternatives provided three options for modernizing the Judicial Center. The commission may decide to renovate the existing courthouse, expand the existing courthouse on an adjacent right-of-way, or construct a new building on a new site using a phased approach.
The staff recommendation presented by Simoneaux is the third option, to proceed with the site selection process for a new building.
Paul Cramer, president of the Classic Center, convened the mayor and commission meeting to request the development of a Hickory Street parking deck as the final item on Tuesday’s business session agenda.
Cramer cited Classic Center wage improvements, revenue additions, and a three-lane joint use of the bridge as some of the benefits of creating a new parking bridge in the ACC.