October 29, 2019
Dispatch series shined the light on the challenges we are facing as a community
along Sullivant Avenue. For me, it’s personal. I grew up in a home with 47
foster brothers and sisters, many who came from broken homes in challenged, but
resilient neighborhoods. Now, I see some of the same obstacles facing the young
people I mentor at West High School.
administration has been working hard on ways to revitalize lives – more than
simply fixing broken windows, tearing down vacant buildings or forcing a
vulnerable population to move to another neighborhood.
investing in community-based initiatives through Human Services grants such as:
- Boys and Girls Clubs-J Ashburn Jr.
- Franklinton Development Association
for financial life skills
- Franklinton Rising for training young
adults through classes and the processes of rebuilding boarded-up vacant houses
- Freedom A la Carte to provide
workforce development to survivors of human trafficking
- Gladden Community House-Food Pantry
We are also
nearing completion of the Hilltop master plan, similar to what we did with One
Linden: a community-driven plan that will holistically focus on the people and
place of the Hilltop. This plan comes after 18 months of meetings with the
residents. Part of the plan includes a multi-million dollar renovation and
expansion of the Hilltop library at the corner of Hague and Sullivant Avenue,
and the completion of the Hilltop Pre-K Center.
While the solutions
to the challenges along Sullivant Avenue cannot be fixed simply by policing, we
are making investments to help reduce crime:
- Shot Spotter: 736 alerts resulted in
30 arrests and 26 guns removed from the streets in the Hilltop
- Safe Streets – more than 3,500
community contacts and an overall crime reduction of 17% in the Hilltop since
the initiative expanded to the neighborhood.
- PACT -- Working hand-in-hand with the
leaders of the community, the teams, particularly in the Hilltop, focused
efforts on the human trafficking and prostitution surge that plagued the city
following the disbanding of the Columbus Police Vice Section, targeting “johns”
and working closely with CATCH Court.
the Violent Crime Review Group engages after every homicide in the Hilltop
neighborhood, reviewing the surrounding physical environment in addition to
sending out the CARE Coalition to address the neighbors one on one. In 2019,
the CARE Coalition reached 150 people in the Hilltop, held a Mental Wellness
Event at the Hilltop Community Worship Center in August and worked with
Hilltonia Middle School and the Hilltop Library to offer proactive mental
wellness activities for the children and patrons of the library.
administration has also concentrated on illegal dumping because no neighborhood
should be a dumping ground. We have replaced more than 1,000 300-gallon trash
receptacles with 90-gallon containers – moving pick up to the front of houses
where possible -- to help keep alleyways clear and less likely to become covers
for crime. We have installed 18 cameras to record areas prone to illegal
dumping, and we had three illegal dumping convictions in the last year.
Since I took
office, we have demolished 211 blighted properties in the area and sold 131 more
efforts, the revitalization of Sullivant Avenue cannot happen just through city
investment. We need the private sector to step up as Doug Borror and Michael
Redd have with the Hilltop Pre-K. And we need mentors, whether through Columbus
City Schools, Big Brothers/Big Sisters or faith-based groups.
We all have
a role to play to support and empower this neighborhood.