Eight years ago, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman initiated a program called Neighborhood Pride.
“Basically it is a strike force for the city of Columbus,” said Chuck Patterson, Chair of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission.
It features a collaborative effort between various Columbus departments, neighborhood groups, business partners and individual citizens to make neighborhoods cleaner and safer.
For seven of those eight years, an area in the Hilltop has been a part of Neighborhood Pride, and at the June 3 Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting, it was announced it would be back again this year.
From Sept. 15-19, residents in the designated boundary areas (Sullivant Avenue to Mound Street and Columbian Avenue to Highland Avenue) will be treated to an intense delivery of City services, including street sweeping, mowing high grass in the public right-of-way, replacing burned out street lights, painting areas where there is graffiti and an offering of public safety and awareness.
“To reach out to the younger kids, we have the Bicycle Safety Festival where Neighborhood Pride Partners teach children the basics of how to be safe while riding a bike,” said Bruce Black, coordinator of Neighborhood Pride. “So many children think that cars can just brake on a dime and that they’ll be safe.”
Black added the first year the Bicycle Safety Festival took place, they taught 81 children proper bicycle safety, and this year alone has taught over 3,000 students.
That event will take place Sept. 26 at West Mound Elementary School.
To reach out to the middle school aged students, Neighborhood Pride holds a Talent Showcase, which will be at Hilltonia Middle School.
The talent showcase provides the students with opportunities to get involved with the Columbus Arts communities. There are six categories in the talent showcase; Instrumental Music; Vocal Music; Dance; Acting; Comedy; and Poetry or Spoken Word. There is one winner in each category and in exchange for agreeing to work with their community for service hours, they go to classes, seminars or mentoring programs with places like BalletMet, the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus Performing Arts Center, Denison University, Music in the Air and the Wexner Center for the Arts.
As incentive for those with green thumbs, there is the Beautiful Home Award.
“We ask the neighborhood groups to pick out 10 homes in the area that bring pride to the community,” said Black.
On Sept. 16, there will be a three-hour safety education class for adults and children at the Glenwood Recreation Center, which begins at 6 p.m.
“The Neighborhood Safety Academy is great because it focuses on gangs and the things that come along with them,” Black said. “It teaches you how to identify graffiti and logos in the neighborhood, and to be aware of the signs if your children are hanging around with gangs.
“With this, you could have mom and dad in one room being trained about this, and the kids in the other rooms.”
Black added everyone is welcome to join in on the festivities (which includes free meals), and are more than welcome to pitch in and help.
“The success of this program is dependent on the relationships that have to be developed."
If you are out on Broad Street or Sullivant Avenue during the late morning or early afternoon hours, you may notice an increase of Officers with the Division of Police patrolling on foot.
“It felt really good to see them walking around out there,” Patterson said. “A strong, visual police presence is a deterrent to bad guys and is an encouragement to the good guys.”
For 30-45 minutes per day on the first shift, Officers with the nineteenth precinct will get out of their cars and walk on foot along Broad Street and Sullivant Avenue.
“We want to get out and be seen,” said Sergeant Horton. “It’s critical to be present out on the street.”
Horton hopes seeing officers on foot will encourage relationships and help residents not only feel safer, but to give out tips or tell them about “shifty” behavior in the neighborhood.
He added that the walking shifts are run permitting, meaning calls of domestic disturbances, homicides, robberies and the like will still get first response.