wp plan

I’m bored. Let’s plan something.

Planning. It’s the primary activity in Weinland Park. We do a lot of planning. If you like plans or making plans, word clouds, or buzz words then Weinland Park is for you.

food district 1

Love the building but how did we get here?

For instance, once upon a time a nice man came to the Weinland Park Community  Civic Association and presented a proposal. There was a grant he could apply for if the WPCCA would support it.  He told us that Weinland Park was a “food desert” where fresh and nutritious foods, especially vegetables were unobtainable. While there was some speculation about whether he knew about the existence of the Kroger’s store the WPCCA said, “yeah, whatever, you go get that grant.”  Your local blogger was there and fully expected to really never hear from him again. There was some neighborhood poking and giggling about the “food desert” and then we all went to Kroger’s for some organic kale to make those green smoothies that are so popular. At that time in 2010, when revitalization was heating up there was really no shortage of people peddling plans – there’s nothing like federal, state, and philanthropic dollars to attract people with plans and ideas of how to spend the money.

Much to everyone’s surprise MORPC actually got the HUD planning grant for $843,986 and the planning process began. Like most things in Weinland Park no opportunity to spend money goes without an expository video featuring soothing music and Tarkovsky-esque pan shots of broken windows. Sometimes it’s like a negative political campaign ad except the evil opposing candidate is the neighborhood itself epitomized by a burned out house, a convenience store or a chain link fence close-up. These must be things that make middle-class white people reach for the checkbook.

It’s really just a matter of time before the Sarah McLachlan Weinland-Park-is-where-kittens-go to-die video comes out.  The new Kroger’s store is never, ever in the video.  In most cases, this is also the projects end result. Weinland Park’s leading industry often seems to be the production of these videos closely followed by opportunities to pick up trash and class projects.

word cloud

What do the people want – vegetables?

This was followed by series of HUD mandated public meetings where residents, architects, and planners were supposed to figure out ways to roll back the food desert. However, in the meetings it became apparent that healthy and nutritious foods was not at the top of the neighborhood list. What the people of Weinland Park really wanted was a community center and jobs for the youth plus a sampling of almost anything else one could think of but vegetables were pretty low on the list. This presented a conundrum for the food desert people. So, community meeting spaces and jobs went to the forefront and food was just a vehicle to get there. But when neighborhood people figured out that the whole process was just for grant-funded planning and the associated class projects the gloss came off fairly quickly. This was especially true when residents were informed that the food district would be built when we got the money for it.*  Somewhere in the long line of planning meetings that no one from Weinland Park bothered to attend any more food processing became the cause-du-jour. Because why would you go to a meeting where everyone but you was paid from grant money to make a for a plan for something that wasn’t funded to built? And that wouldn’t be built unless a neighborhood where 57% of residents who live in poverty find millions of dollars. It’s fair to say that skepticism about the project was great and resident participation fatigue reached a high point.

DSCN5162

Will funding lightning strike the same place twice?

So what does Weinland Park get for $843,986? A lot of class projects at Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati, meetings, videos and presumably drawings although no one in Weinland Park seems to have seen any yet.**  If memory serves only one resident was actually paid to participate, briefly, so the money really didn’t revitalize the neighborhood. It did help revitalize a lot of architects, designers, planners and non-profits. If there was a Weinland Park job for every Weinland Park project line on a resume the neighborhood would be bustling. Until then we just have to come up with what has been estimated at between at least 1.3 million and 7 million dollars. Then we can make a food district. In the meantime, we’ll just keep going to meetings and being in videos.

*Residents have smartened up since then. Woe is the person who shows up with a plan and no funding source.

**Your local blogger finds it irksome that after attending numerous interminable meetings that he first sees the drawings in Business First.

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