Forty years ago, on July 21, 1969, as reported in The Columbus Dispatch yesterday, a white dry cleaner shot and killed a black father on the Near East Side of Columbus, sparking several days of riots in the area of East Main Street and South 18th Street – the corner at which Greater Ohio’s offices exist today in Columbus. In fact, the scene of the crime was a dry-cleaning store at 832 E. Main Street, which today is a vacant, grassy lot directly adjacent to our office building. This area has never fully recovered from these riots, and the surrounding neighborhood continues to be burdened with vacant lots and abandoned properties to this day.
This was a poignant piece of history that drives home the significance of Greater Ohio’s mission. Greater Ohio is pursuing policies to better manage the problem of vacant and abandoned properties across the state and in our local communities, such as this East Side Columbus neighborhood. Currently, we are working to advance Ohio’s land bank legislation to allow counties, cities, and neighborhoods an additional resource to help minimize the negative effects that vacancies cause as well as pursuing foreclosure prevention and vacant property redevelopment actions. These types of proactive policies are crucial, because it is clear that reactive policies often result in a situation where past burdens continue to linger into the future. We are curious about the histories of similar neighborhoods in our urban areas around the state.
To read more about the riots, see yesterday’s article in the Columbus Dispatch