After his brief introductory remarks at last week's first of three scheduled City Council community meetings, Council President Andrew J. Ginther suggested one issue in particular could be on the minds of attendees.
"The capital budget might be a hot topic," Ginther said at Fedderson Community Center on Dresden Street, which was hosting the opportunity for people to have one-on-one meetings with elected representatives and members of their staffs.
Indeed, at a joint appearance earlier that same day with Mayor Michael B. Coleman at the Columbus Aquatics Center on Hunter Avenue in the Short North, a jointly proposed capital improvements budget containing what was described as an "unprecedented investment in resurfacing" was unveiled.
The $379-million proposal, subject to final approval by Columbus City Council on April 1, includes record amounts of $32 million this year and $33 million in 2014.
Other notable items in the capital improvements budget include:
* $4.93 million in upgrades to Karl Road between Schrock and East Dublin-Granville roads.
* $14.5 million for the city's crime lab.
* $2.5 million for the mayor's program to demolish the worst vacant houses.
* $3.15 million in HVAC improvements to recreation centers.
* $1 million for citywide curb rehabilitation.
* $500,000 for additional neighborhood safety cameras.
"The unprecedented investment in resurfacing will improve more than 145 lane miles of roadways and more than 30 miles of alleys, bringing the total resurfacing investment since 2010 to more than $110 million," a joint announcement from council and the mayor's office stated.
"In addition, the capital improvements budget proposal includes $8.7 million for bikeway development, including 107 sharrow pavement markings, 49 bike boulevard pavement markings and 1.7 miles of shared-used paths. The proposal also includes more than $5 million for pedestrian safety improvements that include nearly eight miles of sidewalks."
"Strong neighborhoods include safe streets and sidewalks for residents and visitors to enjoy," Councilwoman Eileen Y. Paley said.
She heads council's Public Service and Transportation Committee.
"This long-term investment in resurfacing will allow us to make an impact in every corner of Columbus," she said.
Just which roads will be resurfaced, for example, or what neighborhoods will be added to the safety camera program have not yet been determined.
A public hearing about the proposed 2013 capital budget amendments is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in council chambers. Speaker slips will be available for those who wish to address council members.
The meeting will be broadcast live on CTV, the government television channel on local cable systems.
While some in attendance at last week's community meeting may have already been prepared to weigh in on getting capital improvements of concern to them, Northland Alliance Chairwoman Joyce Bourgault was on hand for two purposes.
As executive director of the Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center free clinic, Bourgault said she wanted to make council members aware of what the nonprofit operation, which operates out of the Haimerl Center on Morse Road, is accomplishing.
Second, Bourgault said she wanted elected officials to be informed about the efforts under way through a series of nonprofit gatherings she's been convening for almost the past two years.
"I thought it went very well from my viewpoint, being able to talk to the council members I really wanted to communicate with," Bourgault said. "I saw a really positive response from most of the council people, and I just felt really good about it. I always like to keep them up with what we know about the community and the community needs.
"It's nice to have them all in one room because you can go around and talk to everybody. It's good to know you can talk directly to them."
It's good to be spoken to directly, Ginther indicated in welcoming those attending the meeting. He said the main purpose of such gatherings to is to hear "ideas, priorities, issues" of importance to residents.