Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Block Watch and Morrison Hill Community Garden

Continuing to describe the community gardening activities from the first week of this month . . . . . .

The Franklin Park Area Neighborhood Block Watch and next-door Morrison Hill Block Watch met on December 3 at the East Main Street Policing Center. In addition to Susan, Barb and Officer Kalous, we were joined by Officer John Marshall, Doug from U/C and members of the Morrison Hill Block Watch.

There was a consensus that loitering had decreased over the past few weeks and that Urban Connections volunteers and AEP had done a lot to improve the appearance of the alleys near Stoddart Avenue. A nearby garage had been cleaned up and there was some discussion about keeping it that way. There was some speculation that loitering had decreased due to the cold temperature and rain, but maybe not . . . Terry asked for input as to the next focus area and there was consensus about focusing on a couple of suspected drug houses and boot joints.

In addition, City Council Member Michelle Mills had scheduled a public hearing to discuss the Loitering in Aid of Drug Offenses Ordinance for Wednesday, December 14 at 5:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers. City Attorney Rick Pfeiffer will be speaking, too. There was some concern that this was merely an effort to sneak the issue by the public. Members were encouraged to attend to show support the issue, which is of particular concern to Near East Side residents. The more people that show up, the more likely that something will be done to address this issue. The Council notice provides that Ms Mills:

will hold a public hearing to discuss and clarify important points regarding Columbus’ existing loitering law and explore additional ways to protect neighborhoods. The meeting will be broadcast live on CTV, Columbus’ channel 3 on local cable outlets. Speaker slips will be accepted until 5 pm per the general rules of Council.

It was announced that the Trolley Barn area Block Watch had been organized (in the area northwest of our area – to Broad Street). Good luck!

In discussing the upcoming grant deadline to support the purchase of additional security cameras, Barb pointed out that we should consider the ease of downloading the video on a disk or other format to provide the police. It can be difficult, depending on the program. Some of the Morrison Hill participants were interested in joining the grant application and the application has been amended accordingly. Officer Kalous also explained that it should be not be much trouble to pull crime statistics from the prior year to measure and compare the success of the new cameras.

The officers explained that their computer system has been highly unreliable. The entire system was changed in June, which makes some data searches virtually impossible. As it is, they have lost all of their saved email addresses and contact information. So, if you haven’t heard from Terry, you need to contact her and give her again your email and phone number so that she can get back in touch with you.

I passed out daffodil and tulip bulbs to the attendees which I had picked up from GCGC two days earlier. In doing so, I learned that the Morrison Hill Block Watch started their own community garden. I had heard about this garden from some neighbors in passing, but had never seen it. It is on an alley called Tiffin Street, near the intersection of Bryden Road and Berkeley Road.

I recently got a tour. It was started in the summer of 2010 and is well designed. They have two very well constructed compost bins and lots and lots of wood chips. They also have a seating/social area underneath a walnut tree and a very professional-looking sign that was constructed from an old pool table. Officer Kalous donated a split-rail fence from her own yard and this keeps people from parking in this formerly abandoned lot (while visiting a nearby boot joint). What they lack is good soil and reliable water. They only have two rain barrels. They had hoped to apply for a Scotts grant, but just missed the new deadline. I told them there would be another local grant opportunity in the Spring and encouraged them to sign up as an Earth Day work site for the chance to pick up some free (and desperately needed) compost. I also encouraged them to stop by the SACG in April to get some free seeds and to start attending the monthly GCGC meetings.

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