Sections of the Friendly City may be drawing the “wrong kind of attention,” according to a Columbus resident and apartment owner.
“I never thought I would hear people saying that Columbus is getting to be like Jackson or Memphis, but that”s what we”re getting,” Dennis Long, owner of an apartment complex near the intersection of Seventh Avenue and 16th Street North, said during a Tuesday night Columbus City Council meeting.
“I”ve tried to invest in this area, but it”s gotten to the point where I”m afraid to go to my own apartment complex,” Long added. “I just can”t keep tenants in them — not decent ones anyway.”
Long likened the area to the “Bourbon Street of Columbus” on Friday and Saturday nights, saying the street often is lined with cars and “juke joint and nightclub” patrons who “yell, cuss people out, break beer bottles in the (apartment complex) parking lot” and perform other disruptive actions.
Although Long works in the Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle emergency room and claimed to have seen several stab victims transported to the hospital from the Seventh Avenue North area, Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John said he would have to gather further information to be able to “fully assess the situation.”
“I talked with Mr. Long after the meeting last night, and I gave him my cell phone number. Hopefully, he will call me today so we can sit down and get specifics on the situation,” St. John said this morning. “He was definitely passionate about what”s happening over there, but I don”t think he was able to give us all the specifics in the five minutes he had to talk to the council last night.
“I”ll be blunt with you; we do have concerns and pay special attention to all of the areas with nightclubs,” St. John added, noting Tuesday was not the first time he had received complaints about Seventh Avenue North. “I kind of have to walk a fine line until I get more facts on what”s going on over there. I don”t want to act like it”s out of control and I don”t want to act like nothing”s going on over there.”
Although St. John this morning was unable to determine how many suspects officers recently had arrested on Seventh Avenue North, Tuesday night he said officers had responded to “some assaults in that area.”
“I think people who live around the nightclubs on Seventh Avenue North have had a little bit more of a problem with people hanging out around the clubs than maybe some of the other areas with nightclubs,” St. John said. “I think a lot of the problem stems from people who are hanging outside around the clubs.”
Among the nightclubs in the area are Legends and Everyday Club.
Because some tenants in Long”s apartments have moved out because of safety concerns, the apartment owner urged city officials to take action quickly.
“I would be ashamed to sit up there knowing stuff like this exists right here in the city limits,” Long said as he pointed to the council. “I”m just hoping that you will all sit down and discuss this problem. It”s not just my problem; it”s the city”s problem too.”
The council took no action on the matter, but St. John plans to further discuss Long”s concerns and address the problem from there.
St. John this morning said he would have a “better idea of how to correct the problem” once he talked at length with Long.
“We just want to make sure we have all our ducks in a line before we decide our course of action,” St. John said. “We”ll get to the bottom of it, but we have to figure out exactly what we”re dealing with first.”
In other business, the board:
n Unanimously approved design work to be done on two intersections along Military and Bluecutt roads.
Engineers over the next few weeks will study the intersection of Military Road and Bluecutt Road and the intersection of Bluecutt Road and Seventh Street North to determine the best way to rework the intersections and accommodate the possible future widening of Bluecutt Road.
After engineers complete the study, they will present their findings and a cost analysis to the City Council.
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