The Athens City Council will consider a resolution at its Feb. 19 meeting that would help highlight the city’s historic residential district.
The district is comprised of the area around Ingleside Avenue near the Downtown Athens business district.
Athens is eligible to apply for Historic Preservation Grant funding through the Tennessee Historical Commission. The Athens Historic Preservation Commission (AHPC) met on Jan. 3 and unanimously recommended that the city pursue a portion of these grant funds to create a walking tour and accompanying signage.
“They (the AHPC) want it to go for educational purposes and help bring more life to the district … and also to highlight some of the more historic structures in the district,” explained Athens Community Development Director Anthony Casteel at Monday’s Council study session.
The Athens Downtown Business Association identified about 25 historic homes as part of its Downtown Tour, which helped to inform the city’s grant application.
“It may be a long shot for us,” said Athens City Manager C. Seth Sumner of the city’s grant application. “We identified several key areas of the long-range plan for the Historic Commission, (while also) tying it into education and advocacy and also being able to tie in the health aspect of it; that you have folks who are being able to do walking tours to better understand our heritage, our culture … any kind of historical significance about those structures — to be able to share that.”
Sumner said the grant application also includes the potential installation of kiosks to inform people about the appropriate treatment and proper procedures for rehabilitating these types of historical structures.
“So, you’re sharing advocacy,” said Sumner.
Casteel noted that tourism also plays a key role in this type of grant application.
“Historic preservation is a big tourism draw,” he said. “It would also give people who come to our city a way that they can take the brochure and they can walk the district themselves and also learn about historic preservation at the same time, and see the historic structures.”
The signage would be installed either on the historic properties, with permission from the owners, or on city rights-of-way as long as the sign does not encroach on minimum sidewalk width per the Americans with Disabilities Act. The kiosks would be installed only on public rights-of-way.
Pending approval by the Council, the total possible grant amount for which the city would apply would not exceed $32,000. A maximum match of 40 percent, or up to $12,800, would be provided by the City of Athens.