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Clinton-Como Park renovations

CAC allows firm to skip notification of neighbors

Demolition of park's decrepit restrooms has faced hurdles

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

For a fixed point on the map, Clinton-Como Park sure gets around a lot.

Chris Matthews, vice president of a Plain City-based landscaping firm, discovered that fact in the process of trying to obtain a demolition permit for the long-closed restroom structure on the 19.5-acre site as part of $200,000 facelift.

The park went from 303 W. Pacemont Road -- the address on the original demolition application -- to "0000 Riverside Drive," which is listed on the Franklin County Auditor's Office website, to what eventually turned out to be the correct and certifiable address of 3299 Riverside Drive.

"Meanwhile, we're losing time," Matthews, of the firm Builderscape, told Clintonville Area Commission members at last week's monthly meeting.

Matthews also mentioned as an aside that he had to deal with a belligerent homeless man who claimed to be a hardened criminal; the man said he was living with some friends in the bathrooms that supposedly haven't been open since about 2008, and had no plans to go anywhere else.

"I can't do anything until the buildings are removed," Matthews said.

The problem for area commission members, Chairman Daniel D. Miller explained, was a policy adopted more than a year ago requiring public notice for variances and, conceivably, demolition permits. The policy doesn't specifically mention the latter, but it's become the practice of zoning and variance committee members to notify people living in the vicinity of structure that is proposed for demolition.

The next opportunity for a public meeting of the committee to consider the permit application to remove the restroom building isn't until early November.

Further delay will push aspects of the recreation and parks department project into the spring that could be completed before foul weather sets in, making projects such as placing asphalt impossible, Matthews said in making his pitch for a variance from the CAC policy.

"The community is very supportive of this," zoning and variance committee Chairwoman Dana K.J. Bagwell said in making a motion to suspend the notification policy.

The vote to do so was 8-0, with Miller abstaining.

By the same vote, approval was given for the demolition permit.

Also at last week's meeting, CAC members heard from Alan D. McKnight, director of the recreation and parks department.

He was on hand to urge support of the city's four-part, five-year bond package that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

"It does not increase your taxes," McKnight said. "I think that's the important thing to get across."

Issues 1, 2, 3 and 4 will authorize the sale of bonds to fund infrastructure improvements and big-ticket purchases, such as fire trucks, in four different areas:

* $52.5 million for safety and health, encompassing police and fire facilities, vehicles and equipment.

* $124 million for recreation and parks, to pay for improvements to facilities and new bikeways.

* $220 million for public service, funding projects such as road resurfacing, sidewalk installation, refuse containers and equipment, and other neighborhood improvements.

* $445 million for water and stormwater-system upgrades.

"These dollars are dollars the city uses for capital improvements -- basically, bricks and mortar," McKnight said.

By going to the voters to obtain permission to borrow money through the sale of bonds, the city gets a better interest rate, he added.

"It's a good thing for the city," he said.

For more information on some of the projects that would be funded, visit columbusbondissues.com.

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