One of the last three Columbus 2012 Bicentennial Commission’s neighborhood meetings took place at West Mound Elementary School Feb 21.
Despite the snowy conditions, the meeting still garnered 20 attendees. Two other similar neighborhood meetings were held at Parsons Elementary School and Mifflin High School on Feb. 21 as well.
Mayor Michael B. Coleman was unable to attend, but in a statement he thanked the attendees for assisting the commission in determining their final recommendations for the bond package.
“The 2012 process is the largest public input effort ever attempted in Columbus, and I look forward to the discussion and feedback you bring to the thousands of ideas that have been collected throughout the past year by our commission,” said Coleman.
Vince Rapider, planning administrator for the City of Columbus, said the input gathered from all neighborhood meetings is being processed by ACV Consulting and will be made available to the public within a matter of weeks by logging on to www.columbus2012.org.
“The input we gathered last week will be given to [the commission] as they finalize it but also given to the city as they structure the bond package itself,” said Papsidero.
Those in attendance were divided into two groups, and each group was led by a trained facilitator who noted the respondents’ top priorities for improving the Westside.
Later, a master list of all the concerns was made and participants voted on which concerns were their highest priorities by putting three $100 bills of “play money” into various bins labeled with these concerns.
For the people in attendance at West Mound, the concerns were clear: more quality recreation and parks facilities, better safety and health funding and upkeep on streets and highways.
Westland Area Commission member Joellen Locke came to the meeting for many reasons but the one that really troubles her is the lack of recreation space on the Westside.
“This summer, I talked to three coaches. There are 500 kids that have been in touch with them and they only have room for 150. It’s like, where are they going to go? What are they going do? And a lot of them have parents that are working maybe two jobs and they don’t have time to watch over them,” said Locke.
Westside resident Michelle Sutton had concerns about community homeowners who are not maintaining their properties.
“I’ve seen the neighborhood ebb and flow and change, but it just seems like recently there’s a lack of pride overall, even for homeowners. So what do you do to inspire them to maintain their properties? So we all have to deal with that,” said Sutton.
Officer Kenneth Ramos said he thinks the Westside should have a combined police facility and community center for both the neighborhood to use for a variety of services and the police can use to interact with the residents.
“There’s one on 5th (Avenue) and Cleveland and the community comes in there and uses it for meetings and everything. We don’t have any on the Westside, not a single one,” said Ramos.
Ramos also said having more police officers in the 10th Precinct, which is the Hilltop area, would definitely help create a more visible police presence in the community and cut down on crime.
“The Hilltop has grown so much and they have the same amount of police officers, so travel time is a problem,” said Ramos.
Gary Baker, President of Friends of the Hilltop and also a member of the Bicentennial Commission, said the focus groups he is a member of are Quality of Life and Safety. Baker said the commission does not get to decide how much funding each neighborhood will receive; that decision will come from the City of Columbus.
“I assume it’ll be based on need; of course, as far as I’m concerned the Westside is the best side, but we want to make the whole city better,” said Baker. “The mayor talks about the city’s golden age and bringing about Columbus’ renaissance like we talk about bringing about the Hilltop renaissance, so to do that you have to improve every single neighborhood within the city.”
County Commissioner Paula Brooks said she was amazed with the thoroughness of this Bicentennial project.
“I’ve come from Upper Arlington and we did one that went on for three years but that’s a much smaller area and Columbus is vast, and to do it on such a wide scale is impressive and there’s be a lot of neighbors participating on cold snowy nights; people have been there, it’s impressive,” said Brooks