Northland News

City attorney's project seeks to read pulse of neighborhoods

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Columbus City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer is strolling across Columbus, trying to get the pulse of communities from residents who live there.

And he's bringing along a video camera.

His office has launched a new series, "Moseying with Rick Pfeiffer: Exploring Columbus Neighborhoods." Pfeiffer is going into the community and connecting with people who live and work in the area and want to share their concerns.

His first neighborhood: Franklinton.

"It's just a place to start," Pfeiffer said. "It's the oldest neighborhood" in Franklin County.

The 22:58-minute video, which can be accessed at columbuscityattorney.org, shows Pfeiffer driving through the neighborhood, pointing out some local institutions and empty buildings, and driving down alleys and pointing out code violations.

He said his "moseys" are nothing new. He said he often takes interns, staff members, council aides, judges and other elected officials through main boulevards and back alleys of Columbus neighborhoods.

But now he's taking Mark Rutkus, his executive assistant, to film his community visits.

"Mostly what we do is listen, listen to what people have to say," Pfeiffer said. "If there's a problem, we try to solve it.

"We think it will be ongoing but with any regularity, I'm not sure."

One of his pre-video moseys led to the razing of a nuisance site on the South Side.

Pfeiffer said he was talking to the folks who run Ezzo Sausage Co., who complained about the Lockwood Park Apartments, a vacant multi-unit apartment complex that was dilapidated, gutted by fire, strewn with litter and attracting rodents. That intervention led the city into action. The complex was razed.

"In the end it was a lot of people working together to get it done," Pfeiffer said. "It took time, but something positive came out of it."

His office even got a nice note from Ezzo officials, who said before the property was razed, they were preparing to move because of the unsightly mess in the area.

"If you look at what we do with our zoning initiatives: How do we maintain our neighborhoods?" Pfeiffer said. "How do they stay clean? Are the buildings up to code?"

Bill Hetrick, chief of staff for the City Attorney's Office, said Pfeiffer long has been active in community affairs.

For example, when he toured the Linden area, he observed a number of vacant and abandoned houses on Myrtle Avenue.

So, he did a project on cable-access television where he listed the history of every property in question. Code-enforcement will soon target the area for specific problems, Hetrick said.

"I think there's a lot of benefit" to Pfeiffer's moseys, Hetrick said.

"It gets him out in the community, (to) see people on the streets, what their problems may or may not be. We've even seen initiatives taken by the city he has had a lot to do with."

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