COTA changes discussed at Greater Hilltop Commission meeting

By Noell Wolfgram Evans
Staff Writer

If you are a COTA rider, changes are coming and if you are violating building codes, changes may be coming for you too.

The February Greater Hilltop Area Commission (GHAC) meeting was dominated by guest speakers from COTA and the Columbus City Attorney’s office with each bringing messages of change.

Starting May 1, COTA will be adjusting bus routes across the city. The changes are an attempt to adjust the efficiency of the transportation system, said Dan Williamson of COTA.

“The goal is to make buses come more frequently and have them travel in straighter lines (with less neighborhood detours) so that more people use them more often,” said Williamson.

The changes will bring more consistent scheduling across a seven day period, but also come with the removal of some stops. This will require riders to walk a few extra blocks, but Williamson believes that the greater frequency of buses and their extended reach will be a benefit overall.

Riders are encouraged to look for signage at their current stops for additional information and visit COTA.COM/TSR to plan their new route.

Property violations

“It counts, I can’t say it enough. These cases start with a community complaint,” said Kristen Dickerson, assistant Columbus city attorney when talking about her role in shutting down property violators.

Dickerson said that everything from an abandoned property to one complicit in illegal activities has one thing in common – the watchful eyes of the community. She urged those in attendance to be vigilant and follow the adage, “If you see something, say something.”

Dickerson said that calls from the community are vitally important to her office.

“I know people feel like they call 311 and nothing was done, but I use those calls as evidence,” she said.

Dickerson asked that community members share more.

“Give more. Give your best rundown of what you see. What time you see things happening, if there are children on the property, if you see cars coming and going at all hours. It gives us something to start with.”

Traffic light debate

One of the issues dominating local conversation, the removal of a pair of traffic lights, also was on the agenda.

The city took the traffic signals at the intersection of Sullivant and Westgate avenue and West Broad Street and Southampton out of commission.

The full commission voted to approve a letter drafted by the safety commission which detailed out the concerns of commissioners regarding the removal of those two signals. With the full backing of the commission, the letter will be sent to all relevant city officials.
Prior to the commission meeting, Jeffrey Ortega, assistant director of the Columbus Department of Public Service said that the city understood the concerns and wanted to work toward addressing them.

“The signal infrastructure at Broad and Southampton may not be removed until at least May,” said Ortega. “At Westgate and Sullivant, we will be taking another count at that intersection once spring sports start in response to input from the community.  At that point, we’ll take the new information into consideration before moving forward.”

March meetings

March will bring a change to the regular Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting schedule.
On March 7, the commission will meet at the Westgate Recreation Center. The change in venue was made to accommodate the expected larger crowd for guest speaker Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

On March 14, the commission will hold a second monthly meeting. This will allow commissioners and the public to weigh in on proposed changes to the commission bylaws. The March 14 meeting will return to the Hilltop Library. Both meetings are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

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