Residents and business owners from the Brice Road and Livingston Avenue area got their first look July 29 at the draft of a strategic plan intended to spruce up the western entrance to Reynoldsburg.

Residents and business owners from the Brice Road and Livingston Avenue area got their first look July 29 at the draft of a strategic plan intended to spruce up the western entrance to Reynoldsburg.

The goal of the five-year plan is to make the area safe, clean, attractive and a place of pride for the community.

The plan was designed by the Brice and Livingston Task Force, which consists of Mayor Brad McCloud, planning and zoning administrator Aaron Domini, police Chief Dave Suciu, chief building inspector Chet Hopper, service-safety director Pam Boratyn, parks and recreation director Jason Shamblin, development director Lucas Haire and council members Mel Clemens and Leslie Kelly.

The plan unveiled July 29 was the result of the task force's collaborative efforts with the input of residents and business owners in the Brice and Livingston area and graduate students from Ohio State University's city and regional planning department.

It includes seven objectives: maintain and improve rental housing conditions; maintain and improve the appearance of the public domain; work with business and property owners to maintain personal property; provide an increased level of public safety; improve the business environment; cooperate with the city of Columbus to address development and public safety issues; and encourage local groups and organizations to be involved in redeveloping and enhancing the area.

McCloud said the plan is intended to be a "low-cost/no-cost" solution for the area and realistic in terms of today's economy. Implementation of the plan will require participation by the entire community, he said.

"The city alone can not do it, the police department alone can not do it, code enforcement by themselves can not do this,' McCloud said. "We need to join all of the stakeholders together in this endeavor in order to create the change."

The July 29 meeting drew approximately 50 people who either live in the Brice and Livingston area or own or operate a business there.

William J. Williams, owner of the Smokey's Bar & Billiards at 1714 Century City West, said his family has run the business for 20 years and has seen the area change dramatically in a negative way.

"The demographic of the area has changed quite a bit and obviously as a business we look at it as all being about sales and our sales are down well over 60 percent from what they were 10 years ago," Williams said.

"I think the people who live outside the area are afraid to come into the area," he said. With the new strategic plan, "hopefully they light it up better and make people feel safe coming into the area then we'll have people other than catering to people in that Brice-Livingston corridor.

"What we'd ideally like to see is people from all over the community coming into that area to patronize not just my business but all of the businesses within that area," he said.

Area resident Bruce Sowell echoed comments made by others that safety remains a big concern in the Brice and Livingston area. Sowell said a police substation should be established to better maintain a presence and respond to crime in the area.

"In order for businesses to come in that area it has to be made safe, and there are a lot of issues that are occurring between Century City apartments and Eastgreen apartments as you drive down there late at night," Sowell said. "If we just improve the lighting in that area that would help greatly."

Sowell commended the police department, especially the third shift, for doing all it can, but said more needs to be done with help from the city and community.

Domini said establishing a police substation in the area is one goal of the plan.

Other goals include a no-cost block watch program, street cleaning and sweeping, targeted code enforcement and increased code enforcement, as well as community art.

Resident Norm Brusk suggested maybe branding the area with a more positive name instead of calling it "the Brice and Livingston area," which seems to have acquired a negative connotation.

Another resident, Ken Wright, suggested having a statue of Alexander Livingston erected in a position near the Brice and Livingston intersection as a sort of greeting to those coming into the city from the west. Livingston was responsible for developing the wild tomato into the first commercial tomato in 1870.

Others who participated in the July 29 meeting submitted written comments and concerns to the task force. Domini said the task force planned to meet within the next month to review comments and make further updates to the strategic plan's final draft, expected to be completed in September.

Those interested in providing further feedback and comments about what they think can call the development department at (614) 322-6807.