City Hopes to Engage Neighborhood for West Franklinton Plan
With the data-collection done and a market study almost complete, planners from the City of Columbus – along with a group of consultants being led by Edge Group – are ready to start the public outreach phase of the West Franklinton Plan.
The first public meeting is scheduled for January 28th, but the discussion has actually already started online. An interactive website, which can be accessed via computer or smartphone, went live on January 2nd. The site is designed to encourage discussion and generate new ideas from residents, business owners, and anyone else with an interest in the future of the neighborhood.
“It’s an effort to gather thoughts, feelings and experiences,” said consultant Jason Sudy of Sidestreet Planning, adding that they’ve been pleased by the response so far; about 75 registered users signed up the first week , and conversations have already begun about parks, street design, and housing.
Planners will be posting topics and information throughout the process, including drafts of the plan as it is developed. They also will be monitoring the conversation and providing answers to questions that come up. Users can even earn points for posting on the site that can be redeemed for rewards, such as Columbus Bicentennial posters and magnets.
Staff members at the Franklinton branch of the library have been trained to assist residents with the website, while more traditional outreach efforts (such as sending home fliers with school children), are also planned.
Tedd Hardesty, Principal at Edge Group, said that a wide range of themes have emerged from initial conversations with neighborhood stakeholders. Residents are eager to see progress on abandoned and vacant housing in the neighborhood, as well as plans for empty lots like the former Graham Ford on Broad Street. Aesthetics need to be improved along the major corridors, including Broad,which could be in line for a road diet when ODOT resurfaces the street in 2016. Crime is also a concern, especially along Sullivant Avenue, although many residents think that the perception of the neighborhood as a whole is much worse than the reality.
Hardesty also said that Mount Carmel West, a key anchor in the neighborhood that has been weighing expansion plans in Grove City, has been very engaged so far in the process.
“I think they want to clear up misperceptions; it’s not their intention to leave the neighborhood completely,” he said, adding that while the hospital’s plans are not yet finalized, they will continue to have a presence, and employees, in Franklinton.
Despite the uncertainty that remains about some aspects of the neighborhood, Sudy said that there is also a growing sense of optimism.
“There’s an amazing number of initiatives already underway” he said, citing Franklinton Gardens, Franklinton Cycle Works, and outreach from neighborhood churches and nonprofits. “There’s a core of young urbanists trying to contribute in a non-gentrifying kind of way.”
The first public meeting for the West Franklinton Plan is January 28th at 6pm at Gladden Community House, 183 Hawkes Avenue.
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