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The concept of residents taking ownership of their neighborhoods is spreading outward in Columbus.
It began in recent months with scores of people living in the downtown neighborhoods around the Ninth Street Park and the 11th and Washington streets intersection coming together over concerns related to rising crime, substandard housing and other social ills. It is now spreading into outlying areas.
And that’s not the only thing that is spreading.
As residents in the two downtown areas have discovered, their efforts in forming neighborhood watch groups have not only resulted in specific actions designed to make their areas safer and cleaner but brought back to their communities a spirit of unity and friendship.
In the wake of the formation of the downtown groups, similar efforts are underway in areas such as Forest Park, Everroad Park East, Mead Village, Morningside Park, Indiana Court and Central Park Place Apartments.
In three of the outlying neighborhoods, organizational meetings already have been conducted.
City officials, particularly those in the Columbus Police Department, are facilitating these efforts just as they have done in the downtown, but the clear message is that residents must also assume a great share of the responsibility in taking care of themselves and their neighborhoods.
While police can assign extra patrols to specific neighborhoods, as has been demonstrated in the massive response to concerns of downtown residents, it has been made clear that it is up to residents to watch out not only for themselves and their families but the entire area.
The need for that kind of vigilance has brought together in a communal spirit people who might have just moved into a particular area or lived in close proximity to other longtime residents for several years. It has led to new or renewed friendships that can enhance the quality of life for all concerned.
Just as the responsibility for sustaining this spirit of vigilance rests with the residents of each neighborhood, so too is the willingness to maintain this kind of informal social contract up to those who live in the residential areas. It’s what is called “taking ownership.”
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