East Side

BG Community Action Plan to fix up neighborhoods

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s leaders got a glimpse of the city’s possible future Wednesday evening. A future of healthy neighborhoods; homes for families, students and everyone in between; a strong business base; access to health and fitness – all adding up to a positive first impression for visitors and prospective residents. But those changes will take lots of time, lots of work, and lots of money. “I’m a big believer in the planning process,” City Council member Bruce Jeffers said after the presentation of the finished Community Action Plan. “When you plant a tree, you don’t plant it for yourself. You plant it for your children and your grandchildren,” Jeffers said. This plan is similar in that it will take decades to implement. The city, university, private business people and citizens will be asked to help by offering their expertise, investments and elbow grease. The CAP, which suggests goals for seven areas of the city, was presented to City Council and the Planning Commission by Adam Rosa, of the Camiros consulting firm. The proposal offered some specific ideas that could benefit the East Side neighborhoods and the community as a whole, such as: Diversify the housing stock, invest in new housing and reinvest in the existing stock. Set up a rental registration program that would help improve the housing conditions with information about rental available to students and others on a data base. Establish a Community Development Corporation to help move along larger projects. Offer small mini-grants of about $5,000 or so, to help neighborhood associations spruce up areas. Change some zoning codes and reduce parking requirements to stimulate reinvestment. Set up a rehabbers network program and a tool lending library. “There’s a lot of power at the neighborhood level,” Rosa said. Create attractive, formal entryways to campus. Build a hike-bike trail along a creek on the East Side of town. Rosa did more than paint a picture for the city officials and citizens at Wednesday meeting. He had photographs of communities that faced similar problems as Bowling Green, and were successful at turning those issues around. For example, South Bend, Indiana, created a beautiful walkable commercial district. Dayton used a Community Development Corporation to transform rundown housing near…