'Envision Hilltop' Plan Draws Mixed Reactions From Neighborhood Leaders

Jan 15, 2020

Hilltop activists and community leaders have mixed reactions to a comprehensive new city plan for the neighborhood.

The city of Columbus held a public meeting Tuesday night to discuss its Envision Hilltop blueprint, which includes investing in a new pre-K center, funding street cleanups, and building more sidewalks in the area.

Lisa Boggs, South Central Hilltop Block Watch coordinator, is hopeful the plan will inspire government and community to work together to build up the area.

“Everyone has a special role in improving our neighborhood back to her full potential, because this neighborhood has a lot of potential,” Boggs said.

Boggs has been voluntarily cleaning up trash in the Hilltop for more than 20 years, and was involved meetings leading up to the creation of Envision Hilltop. She thinks several improvements are needed in the neighborhood.

“Education, focusing on education for the kids, infrastructure, sidewalks, mainly trash though,” Boggs said. “Cleaning up the blighted (areas).”

Lisa Boggs sat in on meetings to develop the "Envision Hilltop" plan and says she's hopeful about its impact.
Credit Adora Namigadde / WOSU

But retired pastor and activist Gary Witte finds the plan underwhelming.

“If you're really interested in neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods, stop giving our money away to downtown interests,” Witte said.  

Witte wants to see a greater emphasis on social services.

“But for me, what are we doing about human services? What are we doing about addressing homelessness in this area?” Witte said. “This area, along with Linden, has the highest rate of people being thrown out on the street.”

Neighborhood Transformation Strategies project manager Nick Bankston says the city's plan does not have a formal budget; rather, a variety of city departments and partnerships will fund individual projects.