Burnt places to green spaces

Arson homes are evident all over the south side of Columbus. They pose a risk to health, deposits chemicals into soil, and bring many other hazards to the community. Once these houses are burned, they are often left abandoned and harbor crime.

Our team recommends tearing down these vacant arson properties and making a productive green space. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman has an initiative to tear down the worst of the worst homes in Columbus. Money has been allocated over the next four years to tear down 900 homes within the city. Our team recommends that the city increase these efforts by garnering more grants and government funding, and encouraging more residents to volunteer to improve their communities.

A burned, vacated home at the corner of Reeb Avenue and Bruck Street in Columbus. Our team focused our action plan in our report on this vacant arson home. (Photo by Kyla McKee)

Our team studied what the city is currently doing about abandoned homes, soil contamination in the vacant lots, and how to properly remediate soils for different purposes. We also outlined how to achieve green spaces within the vacant areas once the houses and soil contaminants are removed. Green space is more eye-appealing than a vacant and abandoned lot, and can provide a gathering place, urban garden, or a green field for the surrounding community.

Cream, sugar, or lawn fertilizer?

Ever wonder where the water comes from that you make your coffee with in the morning? If you live near campus (and unless you own your own well) it probably comes from the City of Columbus and one of its three drinking water reservoirs: Griggs, O’Shaughnessy, or Hoover. Did you know that there are over 900 private residences adjacent to the reservoirs, and some of the fertilizers they put on their lawns will likely end up in the reservoirs — and our drinking water supply?

Do not despair! What you may not know is that the city actually owns the land surrounding these reservoirs and it manages these riparian areas for the protection of your drinking water supply. The city accomplishes this through its Land Stewardship Program, which uses buffer strips of natural vegetation to filter pollutants before they reach the reservoirs. Unfortunately, many neighbors are not good stewards, or they’re simply unaware of the benefits of the program so participation remains relatively low.

A bank along the Hoover Reservoir in 2006. Little protects the water from lawn runoff.

Since Hoover reservoir provides over 60 percent of our water supply, our group of CFAES students  propose the use of targeted educational programming and specific incentive programs to entice more of the neighbors adjacent to Hoover Reservoir to participate in this valuable natural resources protection program. If our proposal is implemented, participation in the stewardship program will increase, which will further reduce residential pollution from reaching our drinking water reservoirs.

Please visit Columbus’ Watershed Management Section website for more information about this topic:


or www.watershed.columbus.gov

The same area in 2010. Trees now protect the shoreline.