By Hannah Poling
The Westland Area Commission continues to pursue the need for a recreation center on the westside.
The issue was discussed at the July 21 commission meeting. Commissioner Janet Cahill said she spoke to city council members in regards to the lack of parks and recreation on the westside of Columbus. According to Cahill, in their conversation, a council member had referred to the westside as a recreation desert.
According to commissioners, a recreation center would offer families services in their own community. There are not many parks on the westside easily accessible by foot or by bike. The community wants to keep their kids off of the streets and engaged in different activities close to home.
Melissa Green, liaison for the city’s department of neighborhoods, said while city leaders explore options for additional recreation space in the area, residents could utilize the Prairie Township Community Center.
“The interim has been 20 years,” said commissioner Nancy Day-Achauer said in response to using the township’s facility. “A promise was made.”
Commissioners said they are concerned about the size of the township’s center, saying it may be too small to accommodate many westside residents.
“I want to make sure that what I am advocating for is what the commission wants,” said Green. “We want to link youth and families to what is available now to keep them off of the streets so that they are safe and productive.”
Possibilities were discussed for a more timely solution to the problem such as requiring new housing developments and apartment complexes to provide green space and a playground for its residents.
“We are pressing people to come to the westside but not giving them anything to do once they get here,” said commissioner Bill Steimer.
There is available parkland on West Broad Street, however there is no time line for that development.
“The promises keep coming and the politicians keep going,” said commissioner Jeff Tanner. “It’s hard enough to hear, let alone getting on another call with other city council members to hear the problems with their recreation centers and that they want another one. We will take your old one. These are things that city council doesn’t seem to understand.”
Day-Achauer relayed to the commission the importance of getting westside representation on the parks and recreation committee so that the westside has a voice. Anyone who would like to apply to be on the committee can do so through the mayor’s office.
In other news, commissioner Shawn Thomas is resigning from the Westland Area Commission due to other obligations.
The commission will not have a meeting in August. It will resume meeting on Sept. 15 at a to be determined location.