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Trials for mosquito prevention, food trucks set here

Pair of city pilot programs will be tested this summer in Clintonville

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Clintonville will be the subject of two pilot programs this summer.

One involves food trucks, the other mosquitoes.

On the latter matter, Scott Whittaker of Columbus Public Health announced at last week's Clintonville Area Commission meeting that, for the first time, the department will offer free, long-term biological pesticide treatments for rain barrels in the neighborhood.

Whittaker, program manager for vector control with the Division of Environmental Health, said the briquettes are safe, natural and affect only mosquitoes. He said the treatment can keep rain barrels from becoming insect breeding grounds for 90 days at a time.

The pesticide must be installed by someone certified to do so, he said at the meeting.

At the suggestion of District 5 representative Dana K.J. Bagwell, commission members will collect the names of constituents interested in participating in the pilot project and forward them to Whittaker.

"Mosquitoes are a big problem here," Whittaker, himself a Clintonville resident, said during a presentation that focused mostly on suppressing the pests.

This is especially true of the type that can transmit West Nile virus to humans, he said.

Whittaker provided a handout that advised residents to inspect their properties for standing water in places such as clogged gutters, rain barrels, tires, planters, bird baths, tarps, pet dishes and low spots in the yard.

It can take just seven to 10 days for a mosquito to grow from an egg to an adult, the card reads, but checking property for standing water can help.

On the food-truck front, CAC members heard from Kelli Arthur Hykes, who is with the legislative research office of Columbus City Council.

Food trucks are a growing industry in Columbus and across the country, Hykes said, and the proliferation of the mobile eateries locally has brought the city "lots of positive press."

They've definitely taken hold in Clintonville, she added.

"You already have a 'scene' here, if you will," Hykes said.

The growth of the industry also has created some friction between truck owners and city officials as the latter work to craft ways of regulating where and how long the movable businesses can set up shop, she said.

While the best business model for food trucks is locating on private property with the permission of the owner, Hykes said some food truck owners choose to sell from places such as North High Street, from the Short North and "creeping up into Clintonville."

"They find a good spot and they hang out and they get a following," she said.

Technically, however, it's not legal for a mobile business to remain in one place on a public street for longer than 15 minutes, she said during the CAC meeting.

That's where a pilot program comes into play.

City officials want to try permitting food trucks to stay in metered spaces for however long is allowed, Hykes said. That would mostly come into play in the Arena District and the Short North.

In Clintonville, the project would determine how well things would work in unmetered areas, where parking is generally permitted for a maximum of two hours, Hykes said.

Unmetered spots can accommodate food trucks too large to fit into a regular parking space, she said.

City officials have identified 17 metered locations downtown and up into the Short North and eight locations in Clintonville where food trucks can operate in unmetered parking for the test, although Hykes added that perhaps only two or three sites in the neighborhood eventually will be chosen.

"There is a place for them here in Clintonville," said District 3 representative James R. Blazer II. "My hope is that you all can come to terms."

Bagwell volunteered to serve as the commission's representative of the city in identifying places in Clintonville for the pilot program.

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