When the members of the Clintonville Area Commission were asked May 1 to sign off on an American Indian-themed mural at the East Cooke Road railroad overpass, some said the whole concept caught them unawares, and a decision was delayed.
When Clintonville Historical Society President Mary Rodgers and artist Danielle Poling returned June 5, a majority of commission members voted against supporting the project, a recommendation subsequently overruled by the Columbus Arts Commission.
When some residents learned about the vote, they said they didn't know the commission was even going to take a position.
That has prompted CAC Chairman Daniel B. Miller to take steps to increase awareness of the commission's activities.
On July 21, a letter Miller wrote was posted to the Clintonville Area Commission's Facebook page, maintained by District 5 representative Dana Bagwell.
"Recently, I have heard that a number of Clintonville residents are not aware of the issues that come before the Clintonville Area Commission," the missive began. "This may be a good time to revisit how Clintonville residents can stay up to date on the commission's activities."
He goes on to describe when and where monthly meetings take place -- at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St. He also states the agenda is posted to the CAC website, clintonvilleareacommission.org, and its Facebook page at least three days prior to each session.
In addition, he outlines a year-old change to the bylaws that allows individuals to request email notifications of the agendas.
"Despite multiple announcements regarding the new option for notice, not one person has signed up to receive notice of the commission's agenda via email," Miller wrote.
Anyone wishing to do so, he added, may sign up by emailing him at daniel. miller.614 @gmail.com.
"What prompted the post and the letter that I wrote was people talking about the mural at Cooke Road, many suggesting that they didn't know it was on the agenda or something we were considering," Miller said last week. "I thought it appropriate to let people know what we're doing."
It might be, the chairman conceded, not so much a matter of people being aware what issues are before the commission, but of being aware that the commission even exists.
"I think the biggest issue is that a lot of people in Clintonville don't know about the commission, period," Miller said. "It's not that they don't have access to our agenda. People just aren't informed about our existence and what we do."
Hence the campaign to try to increase awareness among all residents of the neighborhood, not those who make commission meetings a must-attend event, he said.
"I don't take it as any type of slight from the community," Miller said. "One of our goals on the commission is to make Clintonville a wonderful and enjoyable place to live. If people don't feel like they have to keep up with us, probably they don't have any complaints."
Especially with new residents, however, Miller feels that "it's on the commission to inform the community of what they do and let them know how we serve them.
"Obviously, neighborhood government is not at the top of many people's interests," Miller said. "My goal is just to make sure people know if they want to know about what's going on, they can."