Columbus to clean up gangs, industrial sites

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Columbus City Council accepted grants Sept. 24 that will be used to clear gangs and graffiti from neighborhoods and industrial pollution from former factory sites to make way for economic development.

Council voted to accept a $266,551 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to bolster Mayor Michael Coleman’s anti-gang efforts. The grant was obtained through the Ohio office of Criminal Justice Services.

Councilman Andrew Ginther noted that this is the second year funding has been received for the initiative launched as part of the mayor’s safety group.

The target area will be a square mile bounded by Whittier and Mooberry streets to the north and south, and Parson and Rhoads avenues to the west and east, on the city’s near east side.

The funds will be used for cameras to catch those spraying graffiti and equipment to remove the marks, expanded Neighborhood Safety Academies to inform residents how to fight crime, and upgraded technology to allow the anti-gang unit to share information with other law enforcement officers.

The anti-gang efforts have had positive results, Ginther added, with 225 arrests and 185 guns taken off the street last year, reducing aggravated assaults and robberies.

Officers have also seized $124,000 in cash and taken significant quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana off the streets, Ginther said.

Council also accepted two $3 million Clean Ohio grants for the clean-up and development of industrial sites.

One will be used at the former Columbus Coated Fabrics site, in the Weinland Park area on Fifth Avenue. The city’s Department of Development will be contracting with the Wagenbrenner Development Company for the clean-up.

Columbus Development Director Boyce Safford called this "a great day for the city"  that will allow for the reclamation of a vital site with a potential for $15 million in development and 2,600 jobs.

The second grant will be applied to the clean-up of the former Techneglass property, on the city’s south side, with TG707, Inc., undertaking the rehabilitation.

A smaller Clean Ohio grant, in the amount of $102,000, was accepted for work at the Kimball Midwest property at 580 W. Goodale Ave.

Councilwoman Maryellen O’Shaughnessy, chair of the development committee, pointed out that receiving the grants is "only the beginning," and more negotiations will have to be undertaken to actually get the sites cleaned up.

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