Columbus

Articles written exclusively by one member of our staff are notated accordingly. Articles in which more than one person contributed are marked as The Real Story Staff Report, while ones taken from press releases provided to us are referred to as Special to the Real Story.
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City of Columbus Awarded $400,000 Brownfields Grant

 The City of Columbus has been awarded $400,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields grant program to conduct a community-wide environmental site assessment in three target areas of our community.

Since the economic downturn in 2008, the city has lost several major employers, driving the city’s unemployment rate up to 16.7%.  The loss of jobs has resulted in 25% of the population being without health insurance and almost 26% of Columbus residents living in poverty.  Areas of the city are marked with large vacant buildings and derelict properties that have increasingly been used for the manufacture of controlled substances.

The brownfields assessment funds would assist the City in clearing these properties for redevelopment; adding jobs in our community; and driving out illegal drug manufacturers and associated crime, all of which will lead to a better quality of life for a very concerned citizenry.

The City has targeted three areas in Columbus:  Yorkville Park is a struggling industrial park on the southeast side of Columbus, with six properties at which the City hopes to encourage new industrial development; the Warehouse District abuts downtown Columbus, the Mississippi University for Women, and a low-income neighborhood.  This area has nearly 20 vacant buildings and numerous vacant lots left by a 2002 tornado.  The City has targeted eleven properties in the Warehouse District for commercial development and affordable housing; The Island was once the industrial district of the city. The exodus of industry from The Island left burned, derelict, and crumbling buildings and industrial facilities.  The City has identified nine properties in The Island area for light industrial and mixed-use redevelopment.

Although the twenty-six targeted properties are priority for the City of Columbus, this Community-Wide Brownfields Assessment grant will allow the City to clear for redevelopment other potentially contaminated sites, which include land uses such as railroad maintenance, agribusiness, and the numerous leaking underground storage tank sites scattered throughout the target areas. Eliminating brownfields properties as a source for contamination will protect local residents, especially children and senior citizens.

Originally Published in the May 30, 2012 Print Edition

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An Update on Co-Op Road

Construction work began on the Co-Op/Bethel Road area, last week.  City officials did tell Real Story  personnel that they will be widening the road area, near the railroad tracks and behind Bethel Church, by about 20 feet, to give the citizens more access to their neighborhood.

There will be no new work done on Co-Op Road.

When questioned about the project by The Real Story, Dennis Gartman, who along with local Attorney Hal McClanahan, has opposed the closing of Co-Op Road stated, “Bill Brigham (District 2 Supervisor) is trying to help the citizens below the tracks. Everyone is trying to say it is (former District 2 Supervisor) Frank Ferguson’s fault and he admitted he made a mistake, but the real people at fault are (Board of Supervisors President) Harry Sanders and Roger Bell (of Genesee and Wyoming/C & G Railroads).”

It should be noted that Frank Ferguson only spoke with one person in the neighborhood about closing Co-Op Road, rather than the entire community; this has been a sore spot with many in the community, as well as other Supervisors.

Even though there is new road work in the area, it appears that this situation is not resolved.

Stand by for more!

MoJo

Originally Published in February 22, 2012 Print Edition

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