Columbus city officials last night outlined a long range strategy to improve the Linden community.
Mike Foley reports.
The One Linden plan covers about 2.6 square miles of Linden bordered by Weber Road to the north, Billiter Boulevard and Maloney Park to the east, the train tracks at 11th Avenue to the south and I-71 to the west. City officials say there were more than 32,000 residents in that area in 1960 but now there’s closer to 18,000 according to the most recent data. Poverty has increased and the life expectancy for Linden residents is seven years shorter than the rest of Franklin County. The core of the plan involves ten big ideas: stabilize and expand housing options for multiple income levels, reimagine Cleveland Avenue, connect residents to employment, support student success, better connect Linden to adjacent areas, reduce crime and improve perception, support and develop businesses, build community investment, address the early childhood experience with expanded pre-K services, and support the health of residents. There are multiple layers to each idea, but that’s the point – to comprehensively transform the neighborhood according to Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther.
“I’m inspired that this plan not only addresses some of the physical challenges facing Linden like transportation and housing and retail, but also the social considerations like education, workforce, health, and safety,” Mayor Ginther said. “The One Linden plan will not happen overnight. It won’t be completed in one year or three years or even five years. This neighborhood has seen a significant disinvestment and separation from the rest of the city’s growth and success. That comes to an end when all of us come together around this plan.”
And it does have some commitments in place, including a $20 million recreation center to be completed by 2020, $2 million in Neighborhood Crisis Response funds for gap sidewalks, ADA ramps, and neighborhood cleanup, and $1.2 million for street light improvements between Chittenden Avenue and Hudson Street. A prenatal trip assistance program through the Smart Columbus initiative will help pregnant women make it to their medical appointments. Habitat for Humanity Mid-Ohio will invest $10 million to build new homes and repair existing ones. Most of the Linden residents at the announcement were active in the 18-month planning process. For those who were not, the South Linden Area Commission’s Lawrence Calloway had the following suggestion.
“We have some people who are going to be a little skeptical about this plan and what it does and whose needs it meets,” Calloway said. “So if you missed that portion of the thinking process, you have the ability to get involved with the implementation process at least. Because the people who worked on this thought for you, thought about you, put this together for you. So as they prepared a place for you to be, make sure you’re in that place and occupying that space to get the most out of what this plan has to offer. This plan is to make sure that we create something sustainable, something durable, and something meaningful to the community. So if you didn’t see yourself in it, maybe you need to mention how you could be in it or identify who you are in this process to make the implementation process that much greater.”
The city has set up a website for more information at ourlinden.com