Columbus State and City Government Collaborate for Clean up

Columbus and CSU are working together to support a city program being piloted in Midtown that is intended to improve neighborhoods. The expectation with the program is that it will be rolled out across the entirety of the city and make properties available for developers and builders before demolition.

The initiative is part of a longstanding collaboration between the city of Columbus and CSU. The Geography program of CSU has a long history of engaging students in projects that actually apply what they are learning in their classes to solving real world problems. The program believes these community projects ground students, helping them see the connections between what they learn in class and what they can do when they graduate.

This project involves conducting research with Charlotte Davis who is the Inspections Services Coordinator in the Department of Building Inspections and Code Enforcement. Davis is an accomplished Geographic Information Systems (GIS) practitioner who routinely uses GIS in her work. Columbus is collecting data on potentially blighted properties in Columbus as part of the city’s effort to remediate them by either renovation or demolition. The work models a similar project conducted in the City of Mobile who developed a Blight Index to evaluate the properties. The first step of the project is the collection of data about the properties using that Blight Index. CSU students are participating in this step.

CSU student Derringer Kuriatnyk described the work saying, “I believe that the work we are doing on this project not only builds our records of vacant properties but also helps the community at the same time. The government of Columbus can use this GIS, with the help of our mentor, to build a list of homes and lots to sort out which ones would cost too much to renovate or which properties the city can save. The community as a whole can benefit from what will come out of this project with better looking neighborhoods and an increase in the Columbus economy.”

Fellow student Kevin Fabery, in reflecting on the project, observed that, “This has been a long and unique internship, with fun and interesting people. It has allowed me to develop professionally through our use of GIS programs to help the community in long-term redevelopment programs that will benefit all. Personally, I have learned the value of collaboration with experts and compatriots who offer creative insight and methods in completion of a project such as this.”