At last night's football game, Off. Brent Keyser (also a firefighter) gave me a copy of a newspaper that I had left in my car when I had my accident back in July 2009.
The title of the article was "The two sides of Columbia downtown." As I read the article from about two years ago, I got to asking myself what has changed and when I read it, the more it started to look like some of the things I've seen saying over the past few months while campaigning for a four-year term on borough council. I will priomise residents of our great town, I have been a tireless supporter of Columbia and will work hard to better Columbia. Here is that article.
Have you been through downtown Columbia lately? I have several times during the day and at night. Our town takes on two different personalities -- one by day and one by night. Go dtowntown during the day and there are people walking the street, more often than not willing to say "hello" or help the old folks across the street. The businesses tha are downtown are a beehive of activity for the most part. But when the working day ends, the town starts to change.
The people are less friendly walking the streets; the skateboarders and the bicyclists are out. Instead of people wantingto help you across the street, they'd rather make you run across the street. In a couple of areas in our downtown, there are people outside on the street in front of their buildings cooking outside with no care or the problems an open flame might bring. I saw some of this the last two Saturdays in our town and several nights when I dare go downtown. Heck, the other night, I even saw a resident on Locust Street trying to be a DJ, complete with blaring music, and trying to cook right out on the sidewalk.
I was in an e-mail conversation last week about these very problems and have been in a weekly or bi-weekly conversation at one of our downtown businesses, and I talked with a member of borough council about it Saturday at the craft show.
Last week, someone was told about parking a small scooter on the sidewalk outside a local business. (NOTE: THIS WAS WRITTEN BEFORE I HAD MY SCOOTER, SO IT WAS NOT ME) But yet we don't worry about the weeds growing up in our downtown and the paint chipping off buildings.
So how do we take back our downtown? We work together.
First, those out-of-town landlords must be sent a strong message. Columbia isn't going to tolerate buildings with chipping paint and weeds out front. We aren't going to tolerate renters who cook outside on our streets and it needs to be enforced with zero tolerance.
Second, when we see there is a problem, report it to the police or the borough so a paper trail can be developedd, and keep calling until something is done. And make sure you go through the appropriate channels.
Third, our borough council needs to send a strong message to those who wor for them -- codes and police -- that this is no longer going to be tolerated. No more Mr. or Mrs, Nice Guys.
Fourth,m zero tolerance is the only way to go. If the apartment dwellers aren't abiding by the rules and regulations, let's send them packing, and the same for the out-of-town landlords. If the message sent by the borough is strong enough, they'll either leave town to become someone else's problem or get with the program and become vital to our town's success.
It's time for the borough council to say enough is enough and some unannounced weekend, just go nuts and have our police and codes our arresting people for everything and anything downtown. It would be a start and then keep doing it!