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Clintonville Area Commission

Members optimistic as they remember '12 stories

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For Clintonville, 2012 was a year of change -- and of things staying the same.

On the latter front, the intersection of North High Street and East North Broadway remained without a left turn lane, to the delight of some and the dismay of others.

But why reopen old wounds? In the view of many Clintonville Area Commission members, who seek to be the eyes, ears and often the voices of the community, the year now winding down marked a diminution of the kinds of acrimony that often seemed to pit neighbor against neighbor when it came to controversial issues -- not least the CAC itself.

Things didn't start out the way, though, commission representatives wrote in response to a request for their take on 2012.

"Controversy and chaos followed by change summarizes the CAC for 2012," District 9 representative D Searcy wrote. "The first five months were some of the most turbulent in CAC history. Unprecedented change followed. Record numbers of Clintonville residents voted to seat three new commissioners in Districts 4, 5 and 7. May's abrupt resignation of the CAC chair (John DeFourny) created another vacancy within days of the CAC elections. After a few months of stumbling, the CAC elected officers and voted to hold a special election to fill the District 8 vacancy in October. A newcomer to the commission was elected chair and the November meeting returned to full representation when the District 8 commissioner was seated.

"The work of the commission is now being conducted as it should be, with calm and consideration."

District 7 representative Jennifer Kangas also mentioned the theatrics among CAC members.

"Other significant events in 2012, not so satisfying, included the drama and tragedy of Shakespearean proportions in the months and events leading up to John DeFourny's resignation from the CAC and events surrounding the CAC election, as well as the better part of eight nights I spent sleeping on my basement floor in order to stay cool during the power outage following the June 29 storm, all the while attempting to help navigate a path for the leaderless CAC," Kangas wrote.

"The unceremonious abandonment of Clintonville elder zoning statesperson Sandy Simbro by the newly elected CAC was disheartening, as was the subsequent omission of formally recognizing the institutional knowledge and wisdom and value she contributed for decades."

CAC upheaval

CAC Chairman Dan Miller said the commission saw a "dramatic turnaround" this year.

"Three new commissioners, myself included, were elected in May, and another, Kris Keller, was elected just a couple of months ago," he wrote. "Between the two elections, the commission saw turnover in nearly half of its nine seats. Three of the new commissioners are under 40, making the commission a body with greater diversity in its composition that I believe better represents the community it serves.

The changes in the membership of the commission were not meaningful just with regard to diversity. With its new members, the commission has seen a renewed commitment to cooperation and respect and has focused on better communication and adherence to established rules, which has led to more-productive and less-argumentative local government, Miller said.

"I'm proud of all that Clintonville and the CAC have accomplished in 2012," he said.

"From a commission perspective, Chairman Miller has done an excellent job of setting a professional tone for the meetings and improving our processes," Rob Wood of District 1 wrote. "I've enjoyed working with (District 5 representative Dana) Bagwell and (city planning and development Chairman) Andrew Overbeck to open lines of communication with businesses and developers in the area. Similarly, (District 2 representative Nancy) Kuhel led discussions with the urban small-business community in her district and I really enjoyed being part of those.

"I am excited to see a bylaw review going forward with Commissioner Kangas on the committee," Wood wrote. "New commissioner Jason Meek (of District 7) dug right in and started the safety and crime committee, and I look forward to what it will bring next year. The work Commissioner Searcy did with the community and COTA on the bus turnaround brought a great result.

"Things have really come together this year with a healthy, active CAC and healthy, active civic organizations," Wood wrote. "You can see it in reflected in, amongst other things, the COTA turnaround, the memorials on West North Broadway, the mural on East North Broadway, the Ohio Birds Mural, and festivals and events throughout the neighborhood. And there is more to come. The city has recommended the allocation of nearly a half-million dollars of UIRF money for capital projects, all of which advance the neighborhood plan, which is really exciting. We have done good work this year and it is just the beginning."

Seeing blue

Recycling figured large in Kangas' recollection of the year.

"One of the most satisfying significant events of 2012 was the evening of Dec. 5 when for the first time I wheeled my blue city of Columbus recycling cart out to the curb and thought about what a long journey it had been to have this and how glad I was that we finally had citywide curbside recycling, and how the CAC may have played a modest role in ensuring that it happened," Kangas wrote.

"Another significant aspect of 2012 was the wonderful outpouring of creativity and community interest that accompanied the gateway sign competition, and presumably in 2013 we will see those signs installed."

Miller described 2012 as a "great year for the community" and cited the following reasons:

* Unemployment continued to decrease in Ohio and Columbus.

* Business development continued to expand, most notably with Mozart's announcing it would take over the former Cord Camera building in Beechwold.

* The Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the Park of Roses installed a "beautiful new sign that projects how proud the neighborhood is of its parks and library."

* North Broadway got some TLC with a repaving project.

* The Columbus Division of Police focused efforts on speeding on residential streets in Clintonville.

* The Department of Development held Neighborhood Pride events in Sharon Heights, the first Neighborhood Pride held within the Clintonville area for a number of years.

* The Clintonville Historical Society oversaw the painting of what might be "the most expansive, impressive mural in Columbus."

"All of these activities, and others, show the commitment that Clintonville residents have to their community," Miller wrote. "They reinforce what everyone in Clintonville knows: This is a great place to live, play and raise a family."

Team effort

Kuhel said Clintonville residents came together in 2012 to improve the neighborhood.

"Significant aspects of Clintonville in 2012 were efforts by hundreds of neighbors from all districts working together to make Clintonville a better place," she wrote. "A few examples: In April, almost 100 residents showed up to plant 900 trees in Clinton-Como Park and Olentangy Village. In June, Olentangy Village residents worked together to repair the Olentangy riverbank. In July, the Glen Echo bird mural was finished. In August, more than 115 volunteer hours were logged by many to remove invasive honeysuckle in Clinton-Como Park.

"In September, the Gateway History Mural was dedicated. In October, 50 volunteers planted trees. In November, residents cleaned hundreds of pounds of trash, tires and junk out of the Olentangy River. In 2012, volunteers installed the Vietnam Memorial, the WWII Memorial and the welcome/performing arts garden on West North Broadway. Countless residents contributed efforts to the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, Charity Newsies and other community charitable organizations.

"Most of all, I am pleased that the commission and the community made progress toward being more respectful and considerate of each other, regardless of differing viewpoints. I believe that, together, we will move in positive directions by holding ourselves and others accountable for words and actions, allowing us to concentrate our energies on building a strong, thriving community."

Keller, the District 8 representative, said Clintonville reflected the gradually recovering economy in 2012 as more entertainment and retail options popped up.

"Graceland added a Michael's store in time for Christmas," he wrote. "Unfortunately we lost Seasonal Concepts and we lost a promising new restaurant when Babushka's Kitchen vacated their North High location. More than balancing that was the announcement that Mozart's was moving to fill the former Cord Camera location. The renovations at the Kroger at North Broadway and North High were completed. The Clintonville Farmers Market continued to be successful and continues to grow with announcement of a winter farmers market in collaboration with St. James Episcopal Church. A competing winter farmers market started ... at the Charity Newsies building on Indianola (and) brought in a good crowd, demonstrating that local foods are growing in popularity.

"On the social scene, Whetstone Park hosted another fabulous Fourth of July celebration and FestiVille put a new twist on an old Clintonville tradition. Clintonville's own professional theater troupe, Columbus Civic Theatre, presented a number of shows to sold-out audiences at their Indianola (Avenue) theater, and Studio 35 unveiled its remodeled interior this summer. Other activities in the area included the continued work on the Ohio Schools for the Deaf and Blind and the new COTA bus turnaround on North High at Westfield."

 

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