Columbus City Councilman Michael Stinziano took exception last week to remarks departing Clintonville Area Commission member D Searcy made to ThisWeek Booster regarding development in Columbus.
Searcy, however, stuck to her guns.
In an April 20 story, Searcy said City Council members no longer pay much attention to area commissions' complaints about development. She also accused city officials of allowing development to run rampant in some parts of Columbus in order to make up for revenues lost by the granting of tax abatements in places such as the Short North.
"This is not the Columbus that I knew when I first went on the commission," said the District 9 representative, elected in 2005. "It's just changed. It's no longer the city of small neighborhoods and them being helped and actually being able to go down and talk to council members and have them understand the feelings of the local community.
"All you have to do is look at what's been allowed to happen in Clintonville."
Searcy said her opinions are part of the reason she's stepping down from the commission when her term ends next month.
The CAC will elect three new members May 6, with voting for residents of Districts 1, 2 and 9 scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St.
Stinziano expressed dismay that Searcy would make such remarks regarding a relatively new administration and a council with a lot of new faces.
"It was a head-scratcher," he said. "It takes time for a change with the administration and the council. I think any member of the public or a resident has as important a role as shaping the future of our city as anybody else.
"Just knowing how much of a new group that we have, it just seems odd to take such a broad brush. I know my personal engagement, my weekly community hours, my strong desire to be out in everybody's neighborhood. ... Yes, there's change, but we can work together as a group as to what that change will be. "
"I would say that Michael is the exception in terms of trying to reach out to the community," Searcy, recovering from knee-replacement surgery, said in an interview at her north Clintonville home last week. "It may be a young administration, but those people are experienced."
"I would just encourage residents to stay engaged, to participate," Stinziano said. "You've got a very active council that is responding and working with issues that both have a long history and that are coming up.
"I strongly feel by getting involved in our hearings, our different community forums, people absolutely are impacting the policy directions that council is working on."
Searcy said people she's spoken with in the neighborhood greeted the news that she was stepping down from the CAC with disbelief.
"Most people are really surprised," she said. "They're like, 'Really? You're not going to do it anymore?' "
Instead, Searcy said, she hopes to devote even more of her time volunteering with dog-rescue organizations. In particular, she said she wants to use her organizational skills and business experience to put these nonprofits on a firmer financial footing.
As for unfinished business, Searcy said, preservation of some of the older buildings in the neighborhood -- those that haven't already been lost -- is something she hopes becomes more organized in the future.
"It takes more than liking a building to keep it," she said.