Residents of the Ninth Street Park area continue to see significant improvements to their neighborhood through concentrated community policing, investments in the park and efforts to reduce blight by the City of Columbus.
Exactly one year after meeting with neighborhood residents for the first time, city leadership again held another meeting with residents Wednesday, November 13th, as part of a continued commitment to sustain improvement efforts that have already shown tremendous success.
“One year ago on this day, residents came to us seeking help. They wanted to feel safe outside their homes, rid their neighborhood of anti-social behavior and criminal activity, improve the appearance of residential properties and eliminate the blight of vacant and abandoned homes that line their street,” Mayor Kristen Brown said. “This area had become our city’s most distressed neighborhood. We responded by concentrating our resources and working with our residents, the results of which have been significant positive improvements.”
On Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of the first neighborhood meeting, representatives from the City, including Mayor Kristen Brown and Police Chief Jason Maddix, and the Lincoln Central Neighborhood Family Center, shared the latest successes with residents, including:
- More police presence, very low crime, significant arrests of suspected drug dealers and increased Neighborhood Watch activities by residents;
- The Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Comprehensive Revitalization Plan, aimed at making the neighborhood safe, welcoming, attractive and supportive;
- And plans to acquire two vacant and abandoned properties near the Ninth Street Park and replace them with attractive, safe and affordable low-income housing.
The Columbus Police Department has made progress in reducing crime and increasing enforcement by making nine significant arrests of suspected drug dealers in the area this year. Police also have more than doubled its extra patrols of the neighborhood, increasing from 326 extra patrols in 2012 to 830 in 2013, which translates to more police presence in the area and high visibility.
Actual crime in the neighborhood, such as thefts, burglaries and vandalism, is low. Most reports are for suspicious activity, suspicious people, disturbances (loud people), or issues with juveniles in the area. These types of reports increased in 2013. Police welcome the reports to help them stop crime before it happens or before it escalates into a more serious issue.
At Wednesday’s meeting, city officials also presented the Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Comprehensive Revitalization Plan. This plan, prepared by the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Safe and Affordable Housing, sets ambitious goals to make the neighborhood safe, welcoming, attractive and supportive. Initiatives in the plan include further reducing crime, improving the availability of affordable housing, and improving lighting, streets and security in the neighborhood.
As part of the revitalization plan, city leadership also announced on Wednesday a major initiative to acquire two vacant and abandoned properties near the Ninth Street Park. Housing Partnerships Inc., in partnership with the City of Columbus and the Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, has received a $221,000 grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to purchase the two properties.
The Heritage Fund has pledged $40,000 toward the purchase of 905 Wilson, and the City of Columbus is investing another $80,000 into this vicinity for affordable housing and neighborhood improvement activities.
The first targeted property is a vacant four-plex at 905 Wilson Street, which HPI plans to demolish and build in its place a new low-income housing duplex. The second property is a single-family residence located at 1232 Eighth Street, which is targeted for rehabilitation because of its significant historic architectural detail. Both properties will be managed by HPI.
“The Ninth Street Park area neighborhood is an outstanding example of how residents can work together and partner with the City to make the changes they seek,” Mayor Brown said. “We look forward to continuing this on-going partnership to help our residents maintain a safe and welcoming neighborhood that they can proudly call home.”