Foreclosures during the Great Recession added to thousands of blighted properties in Columbus. But, a state program helped fund demolition of many of those houses and apartment units.
City Bond Package Would Pay for Basics
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Columbus voters now know exactly how the city plans to spend almost $1.7 billion it wants to borrow. The list of projects is not too fancy.
Lula Zellner, an elderly woman, sits under a shade tree on Geers Avenue. She’s sipping a soda and snaking on some potato chips.
“What are some of the things that really need to be tackled in your neighborhood? We’re in zip 43206. And we need the sidewalks and streets done, mainly. That’s the most important thing right now. And the alleys,” Zellner said.
Zellner lives just three streets east of Driving Park Recreation Center where Mayor Michael Coleman announced his nearly $1.7 billion bond package. More than $131 million of the borrowing package, if approved by voters in November, would go toward fixing streets and building sidewalks.
Other neighbors echo Zellner’s sentiment. Felicia Patterson lives down the street. Patterson’s concerned about the safety of the neighborhood’s children.
“I want the streetlights and the sidewalks because the kids don’t have no where to walk, they got to walk in the streets,” Patterson said.
For the most part, the bond package would pay for basic projects and equipment.
“We’re not buying more than what’s needed,” Coleman said.
He said $40 million will go toward brand new park and rec centers. Other recreational centers, like Driving Park, will get several million dollars for much needed renovations.
Columbus fire and police departments would get a total of $70 million for renovations, new vehicles and equipment like radios.
Then there’s money for trash collection and snow removal equipment. And $18 million for expanding the city’s network of bicycle paths.
Coleman is pushing voter approval because the city can get better terms on the loans – saving the city save $28 million in interest.
“If this doesn’t pass we’ll have to make a decision about whether we can build some of these neighborhood projects, number one. And number two, if we can, we will spend more to do it because we will not have saved dollars as a result of this bond financing mechanism,” Coleman said.
When asked which neighborhoods he’d work on first, the mayor, said that’s a tough call. Coleman said all neighborhood would benefit from the bond package, but he said different areas have different needs.
“An example is part of the south side, that have very little infrastructure, that came into the city many years ago. You’ve been down there. And you see there infrastructure is inadequate for a city like Columbus,” Coleman said.
If approved, it would be the city’s largest bond package ever. The last bond package was approved in 2004.