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Blighted Motel Closed Friday
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Columbus Police carried out a judgeâ€™s order to temporarily board up a problematic motel on East Main Street Friday afternoon. WOSU reports while the move is meant to improve the area, itâ€™s a hardship for those who called the motel home.
â€œColumbus Police. If youâ€™re in here sound off.â€
Police officers went from room to room making sure everyone who had been staying at Motel One had received word to leave.
â€œ25 is clear.â€
Police escorted out a couple of stragglers: an elderly woman and a man. But the rest of the tenants were gone by noon. Many toted plastic garbage bags or laundry baskets that held their belongings.
Thursday, Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Harland Hale ordered the motel temporarily closed.
Near the intersection of East Main Street and James Road, Motel One is known in the community for its unsavory clientele, police runs and unsanitary conditions. Since November, the state fire marshalâ€™s office cited the owners more than 20 times for code violations. Police have been called to the motel hundreds of times in previous years.
As city workers cut pieces of wood to place in broken windowsills to deter break-ins, others placed large orange vacant signs on windows.
Area neighbors came to watch.
â€œThis is a very good situation for the neighborhood,” Scott Huggins said.
Huggins, a life-long area resident who leads the Kel-Brook Block Watch, said the closure is a step in the right direction.
â€œWe have been watching this building get worse and worse and worse. And it hides the beautiful family community thatâ€™s behind it,” he said.
Terry Moore has owned Murrayâ€™s Tool Rental across the street since 1979. Moore said the community has tried desperately to improve, but he said the motel has been a thorn in its side.
â€œI think that one step at a time. You canâ€™t take that mile without the first step, and I think this is a very large step,” Moore said.
Ashley Ross and Dean Groves surveyed the action from a gas station across the street. Ross and Groves had been living at the motel. The two moved to Columbus from Pike County last month.
â€œWe came here because it was affordable. And now weâ€™re just, pretty much like he said, weâ€™ll be living paycheck to paycheck. Weâ€™ll be broke paying for rent, you know. But right as of this moment we are homeless,” Ross said.
Owner Helene Steed did not return calls to WOSU for an interview. Motel workers declined to comment.
Next week, the City Prosecutorâ€™s office will ask Judge Hale to make the closure permanent.