Just over two years ago, The Lantern published a column outlining a few of the many faults of Campus Partners. The column criticized the organization’s unprecedented use of eminent domain as a means to force out small businesses in favor of corporate chains. The column criticized the displacement of the thousands of students who patronize the bars and clubs that fell to the heavy hand of progress. The column criticized the university for investing in a giant glass graffiti magnet instead of crumbling neighborhoods.As the author of that column, I would like to revise the final criticism.It is becoming more and more apparent that the university is not satisfied with forcing the small businesses out of the area. Now, it would seem, they are going after homeowners.Pleased with its creative use of eminent domain, Campus Partners is taking a new approach to code enforcement. Code enforcement, a tool of the Columbus Department of Trade and Development, has traditionally (by city code designation) been used on a complaint-driven basis. Neighbors complaining of unsightly or unsafe conditions could call upon code enforcement to issue a court order for housing improvement.But Ohio State and Campus Partners grew tired of waiting for battling university district homeowners to squeal on each other for rusty gutters or an aesthetically lacking paint job. Instead, after a recommendation from Campus Partners, code enforcement has begun making a sweep in the Weinland Park area.Through a telephone call to Campus Partners, spokesperson Steven Sterrett may convince you that Campus Partners is in no way responsible for the recent rash of citations. The Campus Partners Web site clearly identifies the requested action in the “summary of priorities and accomplishments” section of its Web site.But do not worry about the poor campus area residents. According to Sterrett, the University Envelope Program will be happy to assist the low-income homeowners in the Weinland Park region.A telephone call to Cynthia Rickman at the Columbus Department of Trade and Development would assure you that the program exists. Unfortunately, according to Rickman, the program requires that homeowners earn less than 60 percent of the local median income. This maximum amounts to $24,060 for a single person and $34,380 for a family of four.If you are fortunate enough to fall below these cutoff points, you may make an eager call to the Northside Development Corporation, the group in charge of dispersing the University Envelope Program funds. Depending on whom you spoke with, however, you would find that the program is either restricted to the area between Lane and Arcadia (excluding Weinland Park) or simply no longer exists.So in a procedure all too familiar to campus area business owners, the university is starting to lean on its neighboring homeowners. As for the goal of these actions, one can only speculate. But the pattern that Campus Partners is establishing is clear – call in code enforcement, pressure landowners to sell and use eminent domain to claim the property you can`t push landowners off. And now Campus Partners is extending its bullying techniques to people with an even smaller chance of successful resistance.
Andrew Hall thinks the Ohio State University should hold a kitten-slaughtering ceremony on The Oval to further enhance its public image. Contact him at hall.529@osu.edu.