WAC advises citizens to speak up

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The Westland Area Commission is encouraging its members and the community to become involved with activities leading up to the bicentennial celebration of the city of Columbus.

Mike Puckett from the city’s Department of Health spoke at the Jan. 16meeting of WAC about the 2012 Bicentennial Citizen Summit planned for Jan. 29 at the Convention Center.

“This is a big deal,” Puckett said. “As many as one thousand people are expected.?

He said the city is looking for one to three projects in 13 different areas as well as ways to pay for them.

WAC President Mike McKay said he serves on the Neighborhood and Quality of Life group.

“We’re looking for projects that will impact the city as a whole,” he said.

He said his group has met once and worked on developing criteria for the projects that would fall into that category.

The projects for the bicentennial celebration will be part of a blueprint developed for 2012 and “probably will be funded by a bond issue on the ballot this fall,” he said.

Information about the 2012 Bicentennial Citizen Summit can be found at http://columbus2012.org or by calling the 2012 Citizen Summit Registration Hotline at 614-424-6204.

Bicentennial co-chairs are Bishop Timothy Clarke, OSU President E. Gordon Gee and Abigail S. Wexner.

McKay said all proposed projects have to be submitted to the city by April.

Becoming involved with the Bicentennial Citizen Summit is just one way that city residents on the Westside can have their voice heard. Another way is by speaking up at city council meetings.

Member Ashley Hoye encouraged his colleagues to step up to the microphone when they attend the meetings and tell council about their concerns.

“Don’t get afraid to go to council and speak up,” he said.

“Council is listening to you,” Puckett responded. “There are a lot of new members and everything they hear is important to them. They are sorting it out.”

Member Jo Ellen Locke said she attended a recent meeting where residents testified about cuts in the budget.

“Twenty four agencies talked about losing money,” she said. “It was a four-hour hearing. I was there to talk about the issue of a recreation center on the Westside. I didn’t get to speak until 9:30.”

She said the budget for the Division of Recreation and Parks has been reduced over the past six years and that means that a lot of work is not being done.

“A lot of land is not getting mowed,” she said, adding that people are not able to use the entire park.

Also at the Jan. 16 meeting, Police Sgt. David Eing said the city had been able to put an extra cruiser in the Westside precinct.

“We’ve added a cruiser,” he said. “It helps out a bit.”

When member Jamie Mueller asked if it had made a difference in the amount of crime and high number of calls to the precinct, Eing said “It waits to be seen. It’s just getting started.”

And in response to WAC members’  questions about improving equipment, he said that is coming.

WAC, a liaison arm of the Columbus City Council, meets the third Wednesday of the month to discuss issues and concerns affecting city residents on the far Westside. The commission would like to hear concerns from the public. The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20.

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