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Bringing "pride" to the neighborhood
Members of the Westland Area Commission are mulling over the idea of inviting Neighborhood Pride to the area, perhaps as early as next year.
Neighborhood Pride is a team effort by several departments of the city of Columbus, neighborhood groups, individuals, businesses and schools, designed to clean up neighborhoods and make them safer.
Bruce T. Black, Neighborhood Services Coordinator, told WAC members at their April 16 meeting that the program had not been in their area since 2000 when the program began.
Several changes have been made in the program in those eight years, he said.
“In 2002, it moved out of the mayor’s office and into the Office of Development,” he said. “You now have to apply for the program.”
As many as 25 applications are received each year for the program, Black said. Those applications are studied and the list narrowed to 10 finalists from which six neighborhoods are chosen.
City crews will provide such services as cleaning trash from alleys, inspecting exteriors of houses and other structures for code compliance, cutting grass in city parks and painting hydrants. Neighborhood groups are encouraged to distribute literature promoting the events and activities.
The program offered in each neighborhood is different, Black said, pointing out that program leaders will visit the neighborhood to assess the needs and plan the program to fit the neighborhood.
A few things are a constant in each neighborhood, he said. Two of them are the Neighborhood Pride bus tour to recognize 10 beautiful homes, and a gang program.
The homes are chosen well in advance of the designated week and the tour takes place six weeks before the week of events. Homes selected will receive stickers for their windows.
“If we do it once, maybe neighborhood groups will keep it up,” Black said about selecting beautiful homes.
The week of programs includes different sessions each evening, but one of the programs is on gangs and how neighborhoods can help keep them out of their area.
Bicycle safety for children is taught by Metro Park rangers and helmets are given to children who don’t have them. It’s part of the Neighborhood Safety Academy that was developed in 2003 for Neighborhood Pride. The academy has sessions for every member of the family.
“While adults are in one room, children are in another being taught something else,” Black said.
The newest addition to the program is the talent search, designed for middle school students.
“This can be dancing, singing, public speaking,” Black said.
Students will be selected to work with area professionals and arts organizations that offer classes and mentoring opportunities. In return, the students have to give back at least five hours in community service.
They also work together to put on a holiday program in December.
Applications will be accepted in November. If an individual applies, a neighborhood group would have to support that individual, Black said.
The field is narrowed to 10 by the time of the State of the City address in February and the six neighborhoods are announced in March.
Black pointed out that neighborhoods need to get involved to make the program a success.
“It’s the neighborhoods that make it work,” he said.
“It’s worth our effort to give it some thought,” WAC chairman Mike McKay said, and encouraged members to look for neighborhoods in the commission’s area that could be targeted for such a program.
The area WAC serves is outlined by the Conrail tracks on the north, I-270 on the east, Big Run South on the south and Hellbranch Creek on the west. About two thirds of this area is in Prairie Township and the rest is in the city of Columbus.
Residents of this area were asked to vote May 3 for new members of the commission. McKay said five three-year term seats are open. Dorothy Jantzen and Jim Kennedy are seeking re-election and petitions have been received from Mark Fisher and Linda Sidner.
McKay said any over the age of 18 of lives, works or owns property or businesses in this area can submit a petition with 12 signatures before April 28. Voting will take place May 3 at Doctors Hospital between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
McKay also said new officers will be elected at the commission’s June meeting.
Westland Area Plan
Secretary Tricia Brown, who serves as planning and development chair, talked about the possibility of holding a public forum to get community input to help the commission update the area plan for the Westland Area that was written in 2004.
She has talked for a year about updating this plan and indicated the city has the Westland Area on its agenda for next year.
“I like getting people involved,” she said. “Some commissions go door to door to get information.”
McKay asked members to read the current plan and decide if it should be updated in parts or in its entirety. He said the first step should be constructing a survey to see what the residents want.
He added this is one item that could be put on the commission’s Web site, which he said is now active at www.westlandareacommission.com
The commission’s next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at Doctors’ Hospital, 5100 W. Broad St. Area residents are encouraged to attend the meeting and speak with commission members about concerns they have in the community.
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