Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told frustrated south Columbus residents Thursday that downtown Columbus’ successful renaissance can be used as a guide for similar revival on the south side of town.
Speaking at one of her quarterly public forums known as “Let’s Talk with the Mayor,” Tomlinson addressed a crowd of over 100 residents in the lobby of the Springer Opera House, itself emblematic of downtown’s successful return to vibrancy.
She pointed to the infusion of students from Columbus State University’s presence, increased investment along Broadway, the Riverwalk, Whitewater and the work of organizations like Uptown Columbus that have created a new, revitalized downtown.
Several south Columbus residents brought forward their concerns that little is being done to address the area’s lack of growth and investment.
The Rev. Preston Parker, pastor of Victory Independent Baptist Church on North Lumpkin Road, said he is tired of that section of the city being “treated like a step-child.”
“Anybody coming into Columbus now is told to stay away from anywhere from Macon Road south. This is a terrible thing for a church,” Parker said. “It seems like we’re a forgotten part of the city, and this has not changed greatly in the last 28 years.”
Parker suggested that changing what the city calls south Columbus, the way downtown was changed to uptown, might help.
“I can promise you, you can come up with the fanciest name in the world, and that’s not what changes the area,” Tomlinson said. “It takes a comprehensive plan to bring investment to put certain infrastructure in and then to market it, because you have to have something to market.”
Other residents brought up crime problems in the Historic District, the need for more sidewalks and getting city work crews to clean up overgrown lots.
Tomlinson’s final forum for 2013 is scheduled for Dec. 12 at Solid Rock Assembly of God Church on Warm Springs Road.