Northland News

NCC backs city move, calls for NABA leader to quit

In the wake of last week's closing of a crime-plagued motel on Zumstein Drive, the Northland Community Council's executive board issued a statement supporting the action and calling for the president of the community's business association to step down.

Northland Area Business Association President Mohammad Ashraf and his wife are part owners of the Columbus Inn and Suites, 6121 Zumstein Drive.

The NCC "is fully supportive of the city attorney and the Columbus Police Department in their continuing efforts to make Northland an ever safer place," the statement said. It was distributed by NCC Secretary Brandon L. Boos.

"The NCC has been briefed several times on the comprehensive approach that was used to close the Columbus Inn and Suites on June 12 and is encouraged to by the swift and decisive actions that were taken to remove that blight from the community," the statement continued. "We were all saddened to learn that this troubled property is owned by Mohammad Ashraf, president of the Northland Area Business Association.

"Although there is no evidence that his six months of volunteer service with that organization have not been honorable, it is our opinion that it would be inappropriate for him to remain in a leadership role moving forward.

"Ultimately, however, that decision rests with NABA."

In comments made to The Dispatch in the wake of the motel's closing after undercover officers made drug purchases and prostitution arrests during a lengthy investigation, Ashraf blamed a Dayton management company, Raxon Restaurant Inc., for the issues at the establishment, but added that ultimately, "I am responsible."

"It is our hope that other troubled businesses will take note of this event and either clean up or move out before they meet the same fate," the NCC statement concluded. "The Northland Community Council remains committed to the revival of Northland by promoting long-term economic investment, empowering residents, and continuing to work with the city of Columbus to gain support and resources for initiatives like this one."

-- Kevin Parks