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Eastmoor’s Main/Broad plan gets a green light

April 16, 2007
By John Matuszak
Eastside Editor

No longer content to be the neglected stepsister, Eastmoor residents have had their ticket to the ball stamped and are looking forward to a Cinderella-like transformation for their neighborhood.

“This is between two areas that are redeveloping, and it is imperative that this plan move forward,” Columbus City Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson, herself an Eastmoor resident, stated before council on April 9 adopted the Eastmoor Main and Broad Corridor Revitalization Plan.

Tyson was referring to Bexley to the west, undergoing a building boom on Main, and Whitehall, where a Wal-Mart and Sonic restaurant have opened, attracting additional commercial activity.

Caught in the middle is Eastmoor, home to solid neighborhoods and longstanding businesses, but also the location for outmoded motels and vacant and deteriorating storefronts that attract drug dealers and prostitutes.

While legitimate business owners try to beautify their own properties with flowers, hookers ply their trade a few feet away, according to Heidi Samuel, a member of the Eastmoor Civic Association. Other residents have complained that they have been solicited in their own front yards.

The civic associations and blockwatches have had their own successes, from securing funds for streetlights and traffic calming circles to voting businesses dry and seeing crime-ridden Motel One boarded up for a year. But they want to do more, and realized they needed help and enlisted the assistance of city departments of development, safety, parks and transportation to draft their plan for the future.

The Eastmoor Civic Association was joined by the North Harding, Peacekeepers and Kingsbury-Mound Street blockwatches in organizing meetings and gathering input last year.

Harmful zoning and a lack of design standards for Main and Broad were identified as major culprits for the pock-marked complexion of the neighborhood that grew in the years following World War II.

Residents want to see a more pedestrian-friendly area, with enhanced landscaping and outdoor dining. Getting rid of billboards and placing utility wires underground would spruce up the neighborhood as well, they envision.

Having more people out on the streets would deter crime, planners reason.

Letting things fall apart “is an invitation to crime,” Samuel said.

With a plan in place, residents can now seek funding.

“The city can’t allocate dollars if the community doesn’t know what the community wants,” Samuel explained.

Councilman Kevin Boyce reminded residents that now is the time to begin talking about capital investments for the next several years.

Urban Infrastructure Recovery Funds could be earmarked for getting wire underground, Samuel hopes.

The next step in the process will be to adopt a community commercial overlay, city planner Vince Papsidero told council. This document would address such issues as parking and the setback for businesses from the street, providing space for landscaping and seating.

Main and Broad streets should be considered for designation as a commercial revitalization area, and an area commission could be formed, the plan recommends. It also suggests that a merchants’ association be formed to improve communication and cooperation between business owners.

Residents would like to see Motel One put to sleep, with an auto parts or hardware store awakening in its place. The possibility of the city buying the property has been discussed.

The unique architecture of the Brookside and Capital motels, from Main Street’s heyday as part of Route 40, could be preserved for artists’ studios and other small businesses.

Ken Yee, whose family has owned Wing’s restaurant on Main Street for 37 years, has been involved in the planning and is excited about the possibilities.

“This is a huge stepping-stone for getting things off on the right foot,” Yee told council.

Ellen Peterson, president of the Eastmoor Civic Association, added that the neighborhood “is proud of its traditions” and that “businesses, residents, and organizations are all interested in preserving and improving their property values and quality of life.”

Note: The entire Eastmoor Main and Broad Revitalization Plan is available on the City of Columbus Web site, ci.columbus.oh.us.

©2005 Messenger Newspapers (April 16, 2007)


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