East Side looks for push from community action plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After being on the wrong side of the tracks for decades, the East Side residents of Bowling Green are gradually working to change that image. And they are hoping the city’s new Community Action Plan will push along the progress. Since 2007, the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group has acted as a voice and unofficial ombudsman for residents on the east side of Bowling Green. In the past decade, the group has grown from a handful of people to more than 100 “dues-paying” members and many more supporters. The group met again on Thursday, this time to hear from city officials like Mayor Dick Edwards, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett and Police Chief Tony Hetrick. Tretter and Fawcett updated citizens about the Community Action Plan, specifically those sections of great importance to the East Side – the creation of a rental registration, bicycle safety programs, and over-occupancy of rental units. “City Council is still looking at the rental registration,” Fawcett said. “They are still examining it. We have been in communication with other communities about what works for them.” The registration is an effort to make sure rental units comply with basic health and safety standards. Participation in the registration would likely be voluntary. While East Side residents welcome standards for rental units, there are some concerns about how effective the program will be if it’s done on a voluntary basis. “We do want to see registration,” said Rose Hess, long-time leader of the East Side organization. “We won’t have 100 percent compliance” if the registration isn’t made mandatory, Hess said. Many East Side resident would like to see a program similar to the one in Amherst, Massachusetts, That registration is mandatory, with the landlords having to pay for the program, Hess said. Concerns have been expressed, Hess said, about absentee landlords. But that isn’t a real issue, she said. The East Side neighborhood group has information on more than 600 landlords in the city. “We have them in a database. We can track them down,” she said. “That should not be an obstacle.” The mayor spoke about positive changes being made along the East Wooster corridor – with Bowling Green State University and landlords helping to clean up problem properties. “There have been significant changes on East Wooster,” Edwards said, stressing the partnerships working together on the…

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