ATHENS — The village of Athens will soon become the first municipality in the county to have electric-vehicle charging stations, Conservation Advisory Chairman Joshua Lipsman said.

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site rolled out the first charging stations in the county this summer.

“When I read that the Cole House had gotten their electric-vehicle charging station, I thought, of course, we should get one, too,” Lipsman said. “This is the way of the future.”

The two charging stations are funded by a $10,000 grant from the Athens Community Foundation, Lipsman said.

“I looked around for vendors, talked to a number of vendors and formed out a budget for the process including various rebates available through the state to encourage this,” Lipsman said. “I found we were short about $10,000. Gail [Lasher] suggested we apply to Athens Community Foundation because she thought it would be a good fit and they agreed.”

The charging stations will be installed in the municipal lot on North Franklin Street.

“What we’ve learned is there are electric-vehicle aficionados that find where the charging stations are and plan their travels based on that,” Lipsman said. “As soon as COVID lifted and restaurants are open, people will come and park their electric vehicles near these charging stations or at charging stations. Hopefully they will shop and eat. It’s good for the village, it brings people who will spend dollars, it brings attention to the village and more importantly, it’s good for the environment.”

The village board still has some logistics to figure out, such as whether to rent or buy the stations, Lipsman said.

“Once the board makes its decision, I can’t imagine it being more than two-three months and possibly sooner.” Lipsman said.

The board has not yet discussed if there will be a fee to use the charging stations, Deputy Mayor Gail Lasher said.

The station at the Thomas Cole House is open to the public at a fee of $1 per hour for the first four hours and $4 per hour for any additional time. The charging station is available to members of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site at no charge.

“My guess is in the end there will be a charge, but it’s ultimately a board decision,” Lipsman said.

The village submitted its application to become a Climate Smart Community earlier this month, he said.

“The Climate Smart Community designation benefits are myriad,” Lipsman said. “First of all, it means being climate smart, which is good for the environment and it speaks well for Athens.”

The designation would also give the village a competitive edge when it comes to applying for grant funding, he said.

There are 55 Climate Smart Communities across the state with a bronze designation and seven with a silver designation.

The charging station also aligns with the village’s new comprehensive plan, which outlines environmental stewardship and resiliency as goals, Lipsman said.

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