The founder of Southside STAY has decided it was time to go.

The founder of Southside STAY has decided it was time to go.

Matt Eshelbrenner, who helped encourage Columbus City Schools to make Stewart Alternative Elementary School a partial neighborhood school, has moved out of the German Village area.

"Honestly it was very tough decision," Eshelbrenner said of he and his wife, Nicole, moving to Bexley with their two children.

"We had a lot of mixed feelings about it,"

Eshelbrenner started Southside STAY, which is an acronym for Staying Together to Advance Youth

The objective of the organization was to turn Stewart Alternative Elementary School -- once a 100 percent lottery school -- into a school that would accept students from the neighborhood.

Columbus City Schools officials opened up the attendance to children from the neighborhood, but only to children who lived in German Village proper.

Eshelbrenner, formerly of Deshler Avenue, lived just across the border in Merion Village.

"So our kids would not have had a guaranteed spot at Stewart," he said. "And we didn't want to gamble, given what we see as an increase in the Stewart attendance in coming years."

Ken Flower was named chairman of STAY about a year ago, while Eshelbrenner remains secretary until July when the group elects officers.

He hopes to stay on as long as the board will have him.

"I think that STAY's set up for the future," Eshelbrenner said.

Flower said Eshelbrenner helped found a very strong organization that is effectuating change in the neighborhood.

For example, in addition to neighborhood enrollment, Stewart is offering pre-kindergarten educational programs, Flower said.

"I feel like STAY is in a really good spot, possibly as healthy as it's ever been," Flower said.

He said the neighborhood will miss Eshelbrenner's presence.

"In terms of his involvement, it continues on," Flower said.

"I think Matt's been a great help and will continue to be involved."

Eshelbrenner also was chairman of the German Village Society's long-range planning committee, a position that recently was filled by Josh Miller, a member of the committee for about three years.

Eshelbrenner said he will stay on the committee through the end of summer while it continues with its recruitment drive of young professionals and reimagining the visitors center at the German Village Meeting Haus for improvements and a possible redesign.