Thursday, March 3, 2011

Findlay Market and the Neighborhood Enhancement Program

For the past few years, the City of Cincinnati has selected several areas to include as part of the award-winning Neighborhood Enhancement Program. The Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) brings together a collaboration of city departments, local residents, businesses, and community organizations that focus on "enhancing" a specific part of the city during a 90-day period. This year the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood surrounding Findlay Market was chosen as the first focal point for NEP. Today Cincinnati's City Manager Milton Dohoney stood at the doorstep of the market house to recognize the entities involved in this collective effort and to kick off the 90-day blitz.
The Neighborhood Enhancement Program focuses on crime, building code violations, litter, and blight. Even though crime in Over-the-Rhine has decreased 50% in the last 5 years, Police Chief Tom Streicher spoke about the need to get tougher. In fact, Cincinnati Police have been working undercover in the area since the fall and had targeted 13 individuals as "Most Wanted." By Monday of this week, Cincinnati's reported that 9 of the 13 had been apprehended.
Also this week, I noticed that volunteers were painting several vacant buildings around Findlay Market. At the same time, a nearby alley well-known as a drug hangout was boarded up. Most of the NEP activities are similar in that the program emphasizes quick, relatively inexpensive changes such as fixing broken windows, repairing street lights, cleaning up litter, and painting. Evidence shows that these simple improvements are often enough to change attitudes and overcome misperceptions.
Today at the NEP kickoff, I was excited to see all the different organizations that care about preserving and improving this historic neighborhood. The next 90 days should be even more exciting as we see what takes shape around Findlay Market.

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