Groups look to boost development on Westside

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The Hilltop is at a crossroads and residents need to take action to keep it from going down a slippery slope, a consultant told members of the Parkview Community Outreach Team April 5.

“I do feel like the Hilltop is at a point where it could go either way,” Chris Boring of Boulevard Strategies reported to members at Parkview United Methodist Church. “Implementation is a critical next step.”

He presented a summary of his study, commissioned by the Hilltop Business Association and the City of Columbus, regarding the Hilltop/West Broad Street Corridor.

The Parkview group was meeting for the fourth time to address issues of  education, beautification, economic development, and safety identified as priorities, as well as fostering communication among residents.

Boring conducted in-person interviews and surveys with 25 Hilltop business owners and over 30 community leaders, citizens, and researched  data on retail, real estate, and economics in order to determine what the community wants from the corridor and the scope and feasibility of a potential revival.

Jerry Freeman, a representative of the Hilltop Business Administration, assured residents that the information used in Boring’s study will be used to “continue with the economic revitalization of the Hill.”

According to Freeman, a farmers’ market will spring up, tentatively scheduled for  June, likely at the intersection of Sullivant Avenue and Broad Street. The market will potentially host up to 40 booths.

In a related effort to promote business, the Westgate Neighbors Association (WNA), hopes to benefit businesses along the Westgate business strip. The goal of the WNA is to provide an avenue for home-grown businesses to receive recognition.

“The best way to succeed as a small-business owner is to get customers,” said Darryl Hennessey of the WNA.

The organization is taking an inventory of the small businesses in the area in order to make an assessment.

In an effort to target blight and promote pride within the Hilltop area, residents Chris and Courtney Dekle have campaigned for collaboration among all populations, as well as small-business owners.

The two suggested hosting historic home and garden tours, music festivals, and a taste of the area event, as well as a small-business seminar to attract positive attention and pull local businesses back into the area.

“We need to stop being listeners,” said Courtney Dekle. “People talk a lot. Let”s stop talking about it.”

The Dekles also mentioned several upcoming clean-up events, hosted by Friends of the Hilltop. The next event takes place on Apr. 26 at 9 a.m. in Glenwood Park.

Safety concerns

Moses Hubert, assistant safety director of the Columbus Division of Police, also told residents they have something to build on but they can’t sit back.

“You do have a safe area,” said Hubert. “We just can’t let it fall apart.”

The first of two safety initiatives begins June 5 as the police department intends to enforce a curfew among teens in order to lessen concerns within the area.

“Not every kid who’s outside at night is into mischief. We’re not going to pick up all kids,” said Hubert. The police department hopes to use discretion in enforcement, but also seeks to decrease any instances of suspicious activity.

Columbus’s curfew law requires teens ages 13 to 17 to be home by midnight, and those under 13 to be in one hour after sunset.

Those found out after these hours will be taken to the YMCA on Long Street, where they must be picked up by a parent or guardian.

A first offense will require the kids and the parents to attend a three-hour workshop. A second offense will require community service.

A third offense could result in criminal charges for the curfew violator and child neglect charges for the parents, both third-degree misdemeanors that could carry fines and jail time.

The second initiative involves installing cameras in parts of the community. The department aims to start small and branch out.

“It’s just to give us an extra set of eyes,” Hubert said.

Community Liaison Officer Ken Ramos requested that the first set of cameras be installed in the Hilltop area.

Hubert also promoted safety precautions, emphasizing the importance of observation in the community.

“Stay involved,” stressed Hubert. “As long as you stay involved, it (crime) won’t come to your area. Don’t take anything you don’t think looks right. Thriving neighborhoods don’t allow stuff to come into their neighborhoods.”

Hubert insisted that many of the arrests that took place in the last year would not have occurred if residents did not recognize a need to report criminal activity.

As a way of recognizing suspicious persons, Hubert recommends getting to know your neighbors. It is also important to vary your day-to-day routine to avoid becoming a predictable target for burglary.

“Leave some light on—something to make it different,” said Hubert.

Ultimately, Hubert advises not to be scared to call the police in any situation.

Residents can dial 911 for emergencies or 614-645-4545 for non-emergencies. They can also contact Officer Ken Ramos at 614-645-1419 or via e-mail at kramos@columbuspolice.org.

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