Equity, Prosperity Among Highlights In Ginther's State of The City

Equity and Prosperity were the highlights of Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther’s State of the City Address on Thursday night at historic West High School in the Westgate neighborhood in the Hilltop, which was prominently featured in Ginther’s address.

The theme of Ginther’s Address was about equity. As soon as Ginther said, “Equity is the corner stone of my administration,” a protester disrupted the speech by demanding action. Ginther said, “I see you and I hear you, and I look forward to meeting with you, to hear your voices” to quell the protests from further disrupting Ginther’s address in a packed school auditorium.

After the protesters were escorted out of the Auditorium by Columbus Police Officers, Ginther continued his speech by saying, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”.

In his speech, Ginther talked about equality, from combatting the housing crisis and the opioid crisis, to combatting the racial barriers in our community, such as improving the city’s toxic police/community relations. “It’s time for us to discuss the long-term effects going forward, and to explore Racism as a public health crisis,” Ginther said about the racial inequality in Columbus.

Neighborhoods have been the core of the Ginther Administration from the beginning. Ginther announced big plans for Linden, that are part of the One Linden Plan. Construction is in progress for a new Fire Station 16 on Oakland Park Avenue in North Linden. Homeport will be working on a “Downtown Linden” project at the corner of Cleveland and Myrtle Avenues. $ 20 Million will be invested in an overhaul of the Hudson Street Thoroughfare as part of the One Linden Plan.

On the other end of Linden, there will be a fresh grocery store at the corner of Cleveland and Chittenden Avenues that will open in November, that will be similar in nature to the Fresh Market 4 All People on Parsons Avenue. The $ 1.5 Million Project will include Prescriptions and Health Screenings, and fresh produce. The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio and Nationwide Children’s Hospital are partners of this project. “I want to replicate the success in Linden in every neighborhood,” Ginther said.

Last month, Ginther laid out the City’s plan for The Hilltop. At the Address, he laid out several plans for the Hilltop to improve the quality of life on the West Side. Ginther announced a new Substation will be built on Sullivant Avenue that will also double as a Neighborhood Pride Center. The new Substation will include real-time crime tracking, along with a Community Garden and a basketball court. $ 10 Million will be invested in streetscape improvements along Sullivant Avenue, which will include updates on pavements, street signs, traffic signals, bump outs, and street lights. Ginther added that flower pots will be added to “beautify” Sullivant Avenue. The Mid-Ohio Food Collective will be a partner in a community garden at Wheatland Farm, which will include a community center and a fresh market that will supply fresh food to the Hilltop community.

Ginther announced that he will commit resources to combat human trafficking on Sullivant Avenue with partnerships with organizations that will provide support, treatment, and resources for the victims, along with raising awareness. Ginther announced that there will be a “24 hour, seven day Drop-In Sanctuary Night for those who are being trafficked” on Sullivant Avenue.

As mentioned in last year’s State of the City, housing was the biggest challenge that was addressed. Ginther continued that message from last year, by investing $ 33 Million for 1,300 new units for families making less than $ 75,000 a year, while using $ 50 Million to double the affordable housing units in Columbus by 2025. In addition, Ginther announced that the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation will include affordable housing in Downtown by the end of 2020. “The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation has committed to building 100 affordable units, with half going to families that make less than $ 46,000 a year.

In other State of the City News:
- Ginther announced the expansion of the Community Land Trust to Weinland Park and Milo-Grogan.
- A new Mobile Suboxone Treatment Unit, which Ginther said, will “meet addicts where they are” and directs opioid addicts “on a path to recovery”.
- Ginther announced a Climate Change Adaption Issue will be part of the November 2020 Ballot. If passed, it would provide 100 percent renewable energy power, with wind and solar energy in homes by 2022.
- Dr. Beverly Stallings Johnson has been appointed as the new director of The Diversity and Inclusion Office of the City of Columbus.
- Ginther reminded people to take part in the 2020 Census, which will determine the number of seats in U.S. Congress, State House, and Federal Funds (such as Medicare, Medicaid, Free Student Lunches, and SNAP/Food Stamps). “Those who are missed are the ones whose voices need to be heard,” Ginther said in regards to the importance of the Census.