56: Athens Welcome Center Access Improvements

Project Description from submission form

The Athens Welcome Center Access Improvement Plan project will achieve:

(1) ADA Compatibility: Eliminate mobility barriers with leading-edge ADA compliant features. Install a 'Flex Step' lift system, replacing handicap lift. Replace all non-compliant surfaces with stable pervious masonry (paths, existing parking, and patio). Widen path in parterre garden to make ADA accessible.  

(2) Bicycle & Pedestrian Circulation Improvements: Install a bike-share station tying to future bike lanes on Dougherty & Thomas St. Formalize existing pedestrian footpath/short-cut by creating a dedicated Tree Walk (Thomas to Jackson St.), connecting to future Downtown Master Plan elements on Jackson St. Install two new crosswalks at Dougherty and Thomas St. to alleviate safety issues at corner intersection, if site conditions warrant installation.  New crosswalks would safely direct pedestrians to the Welcome Center, improving connectivity to the bus stop, hotels, and Classic Center.   

(3) Gateway & Historical-Cultural Signage and Landscape Enhancements: Install new gateway signage and landscaping at the corner of Dougherty & Thomas St. for a greater city presence and improved visibility to visitors and local citizens. Install historical-cultural interpretive signage throughout proposed Tree Walk (from Thomas to Jackson St.). The interpretive signage will present a more inclusive history, telling the stories of ALL Athenians. Signage will be in collaboration with the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission.

(4) Historically Compatible Addition: The new addition to the historic house creates a larger brochure/information room at the rear and a historic interpretive space for the museum. The larger space will grow the number of visitors and tours the Welcome Center can host, while providing more opportunities in the gift shop for local artists, authors, and entrepreneurs.

(5) Vehicular Access & Parking: Re-establish parking behind the Welcome Center that was a shared public lot for the first 30 years of operation (1967-1997.  Access to the Federal property would require reestablishing the shared parking arrangement with GSA. Ideally this would be done as an agreement in exchange for parking improvements and new security fencing. This arrangement could be further secured by lease or acquisition. 

Estimated Cost:  
SPLOST 2020 Budget
$1,089,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact
$10,000

Project Presentation Video

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