The Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission met virtually for its special called session and agenda setting session Tuesday.

The Athens-Clarke County Commission passed a resolution that confirms the updates on the Clayton Street construction that were discussed in last week’s work session during a special called session Tuesday.

The resolution will eliminate most plans to add planters, except at sidewalk bump-outs and corners. It would also add motorcycle parking spaces and include stairs in needed areas. 

The planters are being removed from the project plan in order to create more sidewalk space for pedestrians, due to the recent extension of the county’s parklet program.

“If you put the priority of having space for people to move... and you want to keep the sidewalk cafes, then the planters are a natural item to take a hard look at,” County Manager Blaine Williams said.

Several commissioners expressed their support for the project and the resolution was approved unanimously. 

District 3 Commissioner Melissa Link voiced her support for the Clayton Street improvements. 

“It’s been a real long time coming and it's been painful, but I believe that the end result is going to be worth it,” Link said. 

After the approval of this resolution, the commission moved into its agenda setting session, in which commissioners discussed the donation of a nature playscape to the ACC government from Sandy Creek Nature Center, a nonprofit partnered with the county to support environmental education. 

The county held a donor recognition ceremony on Feb. 27 to show appreciation to Sandy Creek Nature Center for its efforts to fund and construct the $225,000 playscape. The commission was asked to officially accept the donation of the playscape and are expected to do so in their next voting meeting. 

District 5 Commissioner Tim Denson visited the playscape when the nature center first unveiled it and said that his daughter enjoyed it, despite it being unfinished.  He also noted that he is excited for residents on the West side to enjoy the playscape.

“I don't even have children and I can't wait to get out there and play in this thing,” Link said.

Later in the meeting, the mayor and commission discussed excluding themselves from a piece of legislation that gives them access to a county-funded purchasing card with a $20,000 monthly spending limit. 

The cards have been provided “for the purpose of purchasing goods and services directly related to the public duties of the authorized elected official,” according to the legislation.

“For transparency’s sake and for the public’s sake, I’d feel more comfortable if we weren’t part of this,” said District 10 Commissioner Mike Hamby. 

District 6 Commissioner Jesse Houle was not even aware that commissioners had access to these purchasing cards in the past. Many other elected officials in the ACC government have access to these spending cards as well, including the sheriff, the district attorney and judges. 

The legislation will be updated to exclude the mayor and commission from having access to the purchasing cards, and the resolution will be voted on in the commission’s next voting meeting.